Nucleotide bias of DCL and AGO in plant anti-virus gene silencing
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Plant Dicer-like (DCL) and Argonaute (AGO) are the key enzymes involved in anti-virus post-transcriptional gene silencing (AV-PTGS). Here we show that AV-PTGS exhibited nucleotide preference by calculating a relative AV-PTGS efficiency on processing viral RNA substrates. In comparison with genome sequences of dicot-infecting Turnip mosaic virus (TuMV) and monocot-infecting Cocksfoot streak virus (CSV), viral-derived small interfering RNAs (vsiRNAs) displayed positive correlations between AV-PTGS efficiency and G+C content (GC%). Further investigations on nucleotide contents revealed that the vsiRNA populations had G-biases. This finding was further supported by our analyses of previously reported vsiRNA populations in diverse plant-virus associations, and AGO associated Arabidopsis endogenous siRNA populations, indicating that plant AGOs operated with G-preference. We further propose a hypothesis that AV-PTGS imposes selection pressure(s) on the evolution of plant viruses. This hypothesis was supported when potyvirus genomes were analysed for evidence of GC elimination, suggesting that plant virus evolution to have low GC% genomes would have a unique function, which is to reduce the host AV-PTGS attack during infections.
Keywordsanti-virus post-transcriptional gene silencing siRNA nucleotide bias Dicer-like Argonaute plant virus evolution
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