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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Jul 31;104(31):12902-6. Epub 2007 Jul 23.

Evidence that RNA silencing functions as an antiviral defense mechanism in fungi.

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Center for Biosystems Research, University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, Shady Grove Campus, 9600 Gudelsky Drive, Rockville, MD 20850, USA.


The role of RNA silencing as an antiviral defense mechanism in fungi was examined by testing the effect of dicer gene disruptions on mycovirus infection of the chestnut blight fungus Cryphonectria parasitica. C. parasitica dicer-like genes dcl-1 and dcl-2 were cloned and shown to share a high level of predicted amino acid sequence identity with the corresponding dicer-like genes from Neurospora crassa [Ncdcl-1 (50.5%); Ncdcl-2 (38.0%)] and Magnaporthe oryzae [MDL-1 (45.6%); MDL-2 (38.0%)], respectively. Disruption of dcl-1 and dcl-2 resulted in no observable phenotypic changes relative to wild-type C. parasitica. Infection of Deltadcl-1 strains with hypovirus CHV1-EP713 or reovirus MyRV1-Cp9B21 resulted in phenotypic changes that were indistinguishable from that exhibited by wild-type strain C. parasitica EP155 infected with these same viruses. In stark contrast, the Deltadcl-2 and Deltadcl-1/Deltadcl-2 mutant strains were highly susceptible to mycovirus infection, with CHV1-EP713-infected mutant strains becoming severely debilitated. Increased viral RNA levels were observed in the Deltadcl-2 mutant strains for a hypovirus CHV1-EP713 mutant lacking the suppressor of RNA silencing p29 and for wild-type reovirus MyRV1-Cp9B21. Complementation of the Deltadcl-2 strain with the wild-type dcl-2 gene resulted in reversion to the wild-type response to virus infection. These results provide direct evidence that a fungal dicer-like gene functions to regulate virus infection.

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