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J Virol. 2006 Mar;80(5):2429-36.

MicroRNA-guided processing impairs Plum pox virus replication, but the virus readily evolves to escape this silencing mechanism.

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  • 1Centro Nacional de Biotecnología-CSIC, Campus Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain.


Since the discovery of microRNA (miRNA)-guided processing, a new type of RNA silencing, the possibility that such a mechanism could play a role in virus defense has been proposed. In this work, we have analyzed whether Plum pox virus (PPV) chimeras bearing miRNA target sequences (miR171, miR167, and miR159), which have been reported to be functional in Arabidopsis, were affected by miRNA function in three different host plants. Some of these PPV chimeras had clearly impaired infectivity compared with those carrying nonfunctional miRNA target sequences. The behaviors of PPV chimeras were similar but not identical in all the plants tested, and the deleterious effect on virus infectivity depended on the miRNA sequence cloned and on the site of insertion in the viral genome. The effect of the miRNA target sequence was drastically alleviated in transgenic plants expressing the silencing suppressor P1/HCPro. Furthermore, we show that virus chimeras readily escape RNA silencing interference through mutations within the miRNA target sequence, which mainly affected nucleotides matching the 5'-terminal region of the miRNA.

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