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Characterization of Post-Transcriptionally Suppressed Transgene Expression That Confers Resistance to Tobacco Etch Virus Infection in Tobacco



Characterization of Post-Transcriptionally Suppressed Transgene Expression That Confers Resistance to Tobacco Etch Virus Infection in Tobacco



Plant Cell 9(8): 1411-1423



Tobacco lines expressing transgenes that encode tobacco etch virus (TEV) coat protein (CP) mRNA with or without nonsense codons give rise to TEV-resistant tissues that have reduced levels of TEV CP mRNA while maintaining high levels of transgene transcriptional activity. Two phenotypes for virus resistance in the lines containing the transgene have been described: immune (no virus infection) and recovery (initial systemic symptoms followed by gradual recovery over several weeks). Here, we show that at early times in development, immune lines are susceptible to TEV infection and accumulate full-length CP mRNA. Therefore, immune lines also exhibit meiotic resetting, as is seen in the recovery lines, providing molecular evidence for a common mechanism of gene silencing and virus resistance in both cases. We also investigated the characteristics of two sets of low molecular weight RNAs that appear only in silenced tissue. One set has nearly intact 5[prime] ends, lacks poly(A) tails, and is associated with polyribosomes; the second set contains the 3[prime] end of the mRNA. Treating silenced leaf tissue with cycloheximide resulted in decreased levels of full-length mRNA and an increase in the levels of the low molecular weight RNAs, supporting a cytoplasmic decay mechanism that does not require ongoing translation. Surprisingly, mRNA from the transgene containing nonsense codons was associated with more ribosomes than expected, possibly resulting from translation from a start codon downstream of the introduced translational stop codons. We present a hypothesis for transgene/viral RNA degradation in which RNA degradation occurs in the cytoplasm while in association with polyribosomes.

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Accession: 002775878

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 12237389

DOI: 10.2307/3870391


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