Specific Impact of Tobamovirus Infection on the Arabidopsis Small RNA Profile
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Tobamoviruses encode a silencing suppressor that binds small RNA (sRNA) duplexes in vitro and supposedly in vivo to counteract antiviral silencing. Here, we used sRNA deep-sequencing combined with transcriptome profiling to determine the global impact of tobamovirus infection on Arabidopsis sRNAs and their mRNA targets. We found that infection of Arabidopsis plants with Oilseed rape mosaic tobamovirus causes a global size-specific enrichment of miRNAs, ta-siRNAs, and other phased siRNAs. The observed patterns of sRNA enrichment suggest that in addition to a role of the viral silencing suppressor, the stabilization of sRNAs might also occur through association with unknown host effector complexes induced upon infection. Indeed, sRNA enrichment concerns primarily 21-nucleotide RNAs with a 5′-terminal guanine. Interestingly, ORMV infection also leads to accumulation of novel miRNA-like sRNAs from miRNA precursors. Thus, in addition to canonical miRNAs and miRNA*s, miRNA precursors can encode additional sRNAs that may be functional under specific conditions like pathogen infection. Virus-induced sRNA enrichment does not correlate with defects in miRNA-dependent ta-siRNA biogenesis nor with global changes in the levels of mRNA and ta-siRNA targets suggesting that the enriched sRNAs may not be able to significantly contribute to the normal activity of pre-loaded RISC complexes. We conclude that tobamovirus infection induces the stabilization of a specific sRNA pool by yet unknown effector complexes. These complexes may sequester viral and host sRNAs to engage them in yet unknown mechanisms involved in plant:virus interactions.