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Keywords:

  • RNA silencing;
  • antiviral defense;
  • Arabidopsis;
  • dsRNA-binding protein 4;
  • protein expression;
  • tRNA-like structure

Summary

RNA silencing is an important antiviral mechanism in diverse eukaryotic organisms. In Arabidopsis DICER-LIKE 4 (DCL4) is the primary antiviral Dicer, required for the production of viral small RNAs from positive-strand RNA viruses. Here, we showed that DCL4 and its interacting partner dsRNA-binding protein 4 (DRB4) participate in the antiviral response to Turnip yellow mosaic virus (TYMV), and that both proteins are required for TYMV-derived small RNA production. In addition, our results indicate that DRB4 has a negative effect on viral coat protein accumulation. Upon infection DRB4 expression was induced and DRB4 protein was recruited from the nucleus to the cytoplasm, where replication and translation of viral RNA occur. DRB4 was associated with viral RNA in vivo and directly interacted in vitro with a TYMV RNA translational enhancer, raising the possibility that DRB4 might repress viral RNA translation. In plants the role of RNA silencing in viral RNA degradation is well established, but its potential function in the regulation of viral protein levels has not yet been explored. We observed that severe infection symptoms are not necessarily correlated with enhanced viral RNA levels, but might be caused by elevated accumulation of viral proteins. Our findings suggest that the control of viral protein as well as RNA levels might be important for mounting an efficient antiviral response.