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J Virol. 2005 Dec;79(24):15209-17.

RDR6 has a broad-spectrum but temperature-dependent antiviral defense role in Nicotiana benthamiana.

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  • 1School of Biological Sciences, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68588-0666, USA.


SDE1/SGS2/RDR6, a putative RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRP) from Arabidopsis thaliana, has previously been found to be indispensable for maintaining the posttranscriptional silencing of transgenes, but it is seemingly redundant for antiviral defense. To elucidate the antiviral role of this RdRP in a different host plant and to evaluate whether plant growth conditions affect its role, we down-regulated expression of the Nicotiana benthamiana homolog, NbRDR6, and examined the plants for altered susceptibility to various viruses at different growth temperatures. The results we describe here clearly show that plants with reduced expression of NbRDR6 were more susceptible to all viruses tested and that this effect was more pronounced at higher growth temperatures. Diminished expression of NbRDR6 also permitted efficient multiplication of tobacco mosaic virus in the shoot apices, leading to serious disruption with microRNA-mediated developmental regulation. Based on these results, we propose that NbRDR6 participates in the antiviral RNA silencing pathway that is stimulated by rising temperatures but suppressed by virus-encoded silencing suppressors. The relative strengths of these two factors, along with other plant defense components, critically influence the outcome of virus infections.

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