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Nat Genet. 2005 Dec;37(12):1356-60. Epub 2005 Nov 6.

DICER-LIKE 4 is required for RNA interference and produces the 21-nucleotide small interfering RNA component of the plant cell-to-cell silencing signal.

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Institut de Biologie Moléculaire des Plantes du CNRS-UPR 2357, 12, rue du Général Zimmer, 67084 Strasbourg Cedex, France.


In RNA interference, the RNase-III enzyme Dicer processes exogenous double-stranded RNA into small interfering RNAs (siRNAs). siRNAs guide RNA-induced silencing complexes to cleave homologous transcripts, enabling gene-specific knock-down. In plants, double-stranded RNA is processed into siRNA species of 21 nucleotides (nt) and 24 nt (ref. 5), but, unlike in nematodes, the Dicer enzymes involved in this processing have not been identified. Additionally, in both plants and nematodes, systemic signals with RNA components convey the sequence-specific effects of RNA interference between cells. Here, we describe Arabidopsis thaliana mutants with altered silencing cell-to-cell movement beyond the vasculature. At least three SILENCING MOVEMENT DEFICIENT genes (SMD1, SMD2 and SMD3) are required for trafficking, the extent of which correlates with siRNA levels in the veins. Five alleles defective in synthesis of 21-nt, but not 24-nt, siRNAs carry mutations in Dicer-like 4 (DCL4) that are involved in biogenesis of trans-acting siRNAs. We show that the biogenesis and function of trans-acting siRNA can be genetically uncoupled from a bona fide DCL4-dependent pathway that accounts for RNA interference and for production of the 21-nt siRNA component of the plant cell-to-cell silencing signal.

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