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BMC Mol Biol. 2010 Feb 16;11:16. doi: 10.1186/1471-2199-11-16.

In-depth sequencing of the siRNAs associated with peach latent mosaic viroid infection.

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RNA group/Groupe ARN, Département de biochimie, Faculté de médecine et des sciences de santé, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, QC, J1H 5N4, Canada.



It has been observed that following viroid infection, there is an accumulation of viroid-derived siRNAs in infected plants. Some experimental results suggest that these small RNAs may be produced by the plant defense system to protect it from infection, indicating that viroids can elicit the RNA-silencing pathways. The objective of this study is to identify in the peach latent mosaic viroid (PLMVd), a model RNA genome, the regions that are most susceptible to RNA interference machinery.


The RNA isolated from an infected tree have been used to sequence in parallel viroid species and small non-coding RNA species. Specifically, PLMVd RNAs were amplified, cloned and sequenced according to a conventional approach, while small non-coding RNAs were determined by high-throughput sequencing. The first led to the typing of 18 novel PLMVd variants. The second provided a library of small RNAs including 880 000 sequences corresponding to PLMVd-derived siRNAs, which makes up 11.2% of the sequences of the infected library. These siRNAs contain mainly 21-22 nucleotide RNAs and are equivalently distributed between the plus and the minus polarities of the viroid. They cover the complete viroid genome, although the amount varies depending on the regions. These regions do not necessarily correlate with the double-stranded requirement to be a substrate for Dicer-like enzymes. We noted that some sequences encompass the hammerhead self-cleavage site, indicating that the circular conformers could be processed by the RNA-silencing machinery. Finally, a bias in the relative abundance of the nature of the 5' nucleotides was observed (A, U >> G, C).


The approach used provided us a quantitative representation of the PLMVd-derived siRNAs retrieved from infected peach trees. These siRNAs account for a relatively large proportion of the small non-coding RNAs. Surprisingly, the siRNAs from some regions of the PLMVd genome appear over-represented, although these regions are not necessarily forming sufficiently long double-stranded structures to satisfy Dicer-like criteria for substrate specificity. Importantly, this large library of siRNAs gave several hints as to the components of the involved silencing machinery.

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