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Plant Cell. 2002 Apr;14(4):857-67.

Spreading of RNA targeting and DNA methylation in RNA silencing requires transcription of the target gene and a putative RNA-dependent RNA polymerase.

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Sainsbury Laboratory, John Innes Centre, Colney Lane, Norwich NR4 7UH, United Kingdom.


RNA silencing is a sequence-specific RNA degradation process that follows the recognition of double-stranded RNA. Here, we show that virus vectors carrying parts of a green fluorescent protein (GFP) transgene targeted RNA silencing in Nicotiana benthamiana and Arabidopsis against the entire GFP RNA. These results indicate that there was spreading of RNA targeting from the initiator region into the adjacent 5' and 3' regions of the target gene. Spreading was accompanied by methylation of the corresponding GFP DNA. It also was dependent on transcription of the transgene and on the putative RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, SDE1/SGS2. These findings indicate that SDE1/SGS2 produces double-stranded RNA using the target RNA as a template. RNA silencing of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase and phytoene desaturase was not associated with the spreading of RNA targeting or DNA methylation, indicating that these endogenous RNAs are not templates for SDE1/SGS2.

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