Viral and subviral derived small RNAs as pathogenic determinants in plants and insects
SourceAdvances in Virus Research, 107, (2020), pp. 1-36
Article / Letter to editor
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Advances in Virus Research
SubjectRadboudumc 4: lnfectious Diseases and Global Health RIMLS: Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences
The phenotypic manifestations of disease induced by viruses and subviral infectious entities are the result of complex molecular interactions between host and viral factors. The viral determinants of the diseased phenotype have traditionally been sought at the level of structural or non-structural proteins. However, the discovery of RNA silencing mechanisms has led to speculations that determinants of the diseased phenotype are caused by viral nucleic acid sequences in addition to proteins. RNA silencing is a gene regulation mechanism conserved within eukaryotic kingdoms (with the exception of some yeast species), and in plants and insects it also functions as an antiviral mechanism. Non-coding RNAs of viral origin, ranging in size from 21 to 24 nucleotides (viral small interfering RNAs, vsiRNAs) accumulate in virus-infected tissues and organs, in some cases to comparable levels as the entire complement of host-encoded small interfering RNAs. Upon incorporation into RNA-induced silencing complexes, vsiRNAs can mediate cleavage or induce translational inhibition of nucleic acid targets in a sequence-specific manner. This review focuses on recent findings that suggest an increased complexity of small RNA-based interactions between virus and host. We mainly address plant viruses, but where applicable discuss insect viruses as well. Prominence is given to studies that have indisputably demonstrated that vsiRNAs determine diseased phenotype by either carrying sequence determinants or, indirectly, by altering host-gene regulatory pathways. Results from these studies suggest biotechnological applications, which are also discussed.
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