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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Sep 11;104(37):14741-6. Epub 2007 Sep 4.

Nuclear gene silencing directs reception of long-distance mRNA silencing in Arabidopsis.

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  • 1Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Integrative Legume Research, School of Molecular and Microbial Sciences, and School of Land, Crop, and Food Sciences, University of Queensland, St. Lucia QLD 4072, Australia.


In plants, silencing of mRNA can be transmitted from cell to cell and also over longer distances from roots to shoots. To investigate the long-distance mechanism, WT and mutant shoots were grafted onto roots silenced for an mRNA. We show that three genes involved in a chromatin silencing pathway, NRPD1a encoding RNA polymerase IVa, RNA-dependent RNA polymerase 2 (RDR2), and DICER-like 3 (DCL3), are required for reception of long-distance mRNA silencing in the shoot. A mutant representing a fourth gene in the pathway, argonaute4 (ago4), was also partially compromised in the reception of silencing. This pathway produces 24-nt siRNAs and resulted in decapped RNA, a known substrate for amplification of dsRNA by RDR6. Activation of silencing in grafted shoots depended on RDR6, but no 24-nt siRNAs were detected in mutant rdr6 shoots, indicating that RDR6 also plays a role in initial signal perception. After amplification of decapped transcripts, DCL4 and DCL2 act hierarchically as they do in antiviral resistance to produce 21- and 22-nt siRNAs, respectively, and these guide mRNA degradation. Several dcl genotypes were also tested for their capacity to transmit the mobile silencing signal from the rootstock. dcl1-8 and a dcl2 dcl3 dcl4 triple mutant are compromised in micro-RNA and siRNA biogenesis, respectively, but were unaffected in signal transmission.

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