Emerging role for RNA-based regulation in plant immunity

Authors

  • Dorothee Staiger,

    Corresponding author
    1. Institute for Genome Research and Systems Biology, CeBiTec, Bielefeld University, Bielefeld, Germany
    • Molecular Cell Physiology, Bielefeld University, Bielefeld, Germany
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  • Christin Korneli,

    1. Molecular Cell Physiology, Bielefeld University, Bielefeld, Germany
    2. Institute for Genome Research and Systems Biology, CeBiTec, Bielefeld University, Bielefeld, Germany
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  • Martina Lummer,

    1. Molecular Cell Physiology, Bielefeld University, Bielefeld, Germany
    2. Institute for Genome Research and Systems Biology, CeBiTec, Bielefeld University, Bielefeld, Germany
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  • Lionel Navarro

    1. Institut de Biologie de L'Ecole Normale Supérieure (IBENS), Paris Cedex 05, France
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Author for correspondence:

Dorothee Staiger

Tel.: +49 521 106 5609

Email: dorothee.staiger@uni-bielefeld.de

Abstract

Summary

Infection by phytopathogenic bacteria triggers massive changes in plant gene expression, which are thought to be mostly a result of transcriptional reprogramming. However, evidence is accumulating that plants additionally use post-transcriptional regulation of immune-responsive mRNAs as a strategic weapon to shape the defense-related transcriptome. Cellular RNA-binding proteins regulate RNA stability, splicing or mRNA export of immune-response transcripts. In particular, mutants defective in alternative splicing of resistance genes exhibit compromised disease resistance. Furthermore, detection of bacterial pathogens induces the differential expression of small non-coding RNAs including microRNAs that impact the host defense transcriptome. Phytopathogenic bacteria in turn have evolved effector proteins to inhibit biogenesis and/or activity of cellular microRNAs. Whereas RNA silencing has long been known as an antiviral defense response, recent findings also reveal a major role of this process in antibacterial defense. Here we review the function of RNA-binding proteins and small RNA-directed post-transcriptional regulation in antibacterial defense. We mainly focus on studies that used the model system Arabidopsis thaliana and also discuss selected examples from other plants.

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