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J R Soc Interface. 2012 Mar 7;9(68):436-47. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2011.0361. Epub 2011 Aug 17.

Modelling the dynamics of viral suppressors of RNA silencing.

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Biometris, Wageningen University and Research Centre, Droevendaalsesteeg 1, 6708 PB Wageningen, The Netherlands.


Virus infection in plants is limited by RNA silencing. In turn, viruses can counter RNA silencing with silencing suppressors. Viral suppressors of RNA silencing have been shown to play a role in symptom development in plants. We here study four different strategies employed by silencing suppressors: small interfering RNA (siRNA) binding, double-strand RNA (dsRNA) binding and degrading or inactivating Argonaute. We study the effect of the suppressors on viral accumulation within the cell as well as its spread on a tissue with mathematical and computational models. We find that suppressors which target Argonaute are very effective in a single cell, but that targeting dsRNA or siRNA is much more effective at the tissue level. Although targeting Argonaute can be beneficial for viral spread, it can also cause hindrance in some cases owing to raised levels of siRNAs that can spread to other cells.

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