Small RNAs (sRNAs) are a class of non-coding RNAs ranging from 20- to 40-nucleotides (nts) that are present in most eukaryotic organisms. In plants, sRNAs are involved in the regulation of development, the maintenance of genome stability and the antiviral response. Viruses, however, can interfere with and exploit the silencing-based regulatory networks, causing the deregulation of sRNAs, including small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) and microRNAs (miRNAs). To understand the impact of viral infection on the plant sRNA pathway, we deep sequenced the sRNAs in cotton leaves infected with Cotton leafroll dwarf virus (CLRDV), which is a member of the economically important virus family Luteoviridae. A total of 60 putative conserved cotton miRNAs were identified, including 19 new miRNA families that had not been previously described in cotton. Some of these miRNAs were clearly misregulated during viral infection, and their possible role in symptom development and disease progression is discussed. Furthermore, we found that the 24-nt heterochromatin-associated siRNAs were quantitatively and qualitatively altered in the infected plant, leading to the reactivation of at least one cotton transposable element. This is the first study to explore the global alterations of sRNAs in virus-infected cotton plants. Our results indicate that some CLRDV-induced symptoms may be correlated with the deregulation of miRNA and/or epigenetic networks.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 18, 2012
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