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RdDM pathway components differentially modulate Tobamovirus symptom development


Key Message

The crop yield losses induced by phytoviruses are mainly associated with the symptoms of the disease. DNA modifications as methylation can modulate the information coded by the sequence, process named epigenetics. Viral infection can change the expression patterns of different genes linked to defenses and symptoms. This work represents the initial step to expose the role of epigenetic process, in the production of symptoms associated with plants-virus interactions.


Small RNAs (sRNAs) are important molecules for gene regulation in plants and play an essential role in plant-pathogen interactions. Researchers have evaluated the relationship between viral infections as well as the endogenous accumulation of sRNAs and the transcriptional changes associated with the production of symptoms, but little is known about a possible direct role of epigenetics, mediated by 24-nt sRNAs, in the induction of these symptoms. Using different RNA directed DNA methylation (RdDM) pathway mutants and a triple demethylase mutant; here we demonstrate that the disruption of RdDM pathway during viral infection produce alterations in the plant transcriptome and in consequence changes in plant symptoms. This study represents the initial step in exposing that DNA methylation directed by endogenous sRNAs has an important role, uncoupled to defense, in the production of symptoms associated with plant-virus interactions.

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We thank Federico Ariel, Pablo Manavella and Martin Crespi for the rdr2, nrpd2a, ago4 and rdd lines, respectively.


This research was supported by grants from CONICET (Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas) and ANPCyT (Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica) PICT 2014-1163 and PICT 2015-1532.

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Authors and Affiliations



ML: Investigation, Methodology, Visualization, Writing original draft and Writing review and editing. DZ: Investigation, Bioinformatics analysis, Data curation, Writing review and editing. AV: Investigation, Methodology, Writing review and editing. SA: Conceptualization, Funding acquisition, Investigation, Project administration, Resources, Supervision, Writing review & editing.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sebastián Asurmendi.

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Table S1. Normalized reads of 24-nt sRNAs in mock-inoculated (MI), TMV-Cg and ORMV infected plants at 4dpi. Each excel sheet shows the different readings that map to the different regions. Cpm: counts per million. Yellow ID: shared genes. Red ID: transposons associated genes. (XLSX 66 kb)

Table S2. Gene ontology analysis. (XLSX 7 kb)

Table S3. Oligonucleotide primers used for RTqPCR experiments. (XLSX 12 kb)

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Leone, M., Zavallo, D., Venturuzzi, A. et al. RdDM pathway components differentially modulate Tobamovirus symptom development. Plant Mol Biol 104, 467–481 (2020).

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  • Epigenetics
  • Immunity
  • RdDM
  • sRNAs
  • Symptoms
  • Virus