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EMBO J. 2007 Aug 22;26(16):3836-46. Epub 2007 Jul 26.

Tertiary structure and function of an RNA motif required for plant vascular entry to initiate systemic trafficking.

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  • 1Department of Plant Cellular and Molecular Biology and Plant Biotechnology Center, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.

Abstract

Vascular entry is a decisive step for the initiation of long-distance movement of infectious and endogenous RNAs, silencing signals and developmental/defense signals in plants. However, the mechanisms remain poorly understood. We used Potato spindle tuber viroid (PSTVd) as a model to investigate the direct role of the RNA itself in vascular entry. We report here the identification of an RNA motif that is required for PSTVd to traffic from nonvascular into the vascular tissue phloem to initiate systemic infection. This motif consists of nucleotides U/C that form a water-inserted cis Watson-Crick/Watson-Crick base pair flanked by short helices that comprise canonical Watson-Crick/Watson-Crick base pairs. This tertiary structural model was inferred by comparison with X-ray crystal structures of similar motifs in rRNAs and is supported by combined mutagenesis and covariation analyses. Hydration pattern analysis suggests that water insertion induces a widened minor groove conducive to protein and/or RNA interactions. Our model and approaches have broad implications to investigate the RNA structural motifs in other RNAs for vascular entry and to study the basic principles of RNA structure-function relationships.

PMID:
17660743
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC1952227
Free PMC Article
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