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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Dissecting RNA silencing in protoplasts uncovers novel effects of viral suppressors on the silencing pathway at the cellular level.

Short interfering RNA (siRNA)-mediated RNA silencing plays an important role in cellular defence against viral infection and abnormal gene expression in multiple organisms. Many viruses have evolved silencing suppressors for counter-defence. We have developed an RNA silencing system in the protoplasts of Nicotiana benthamiana to investigate the functions of viral suppressors at the cellular level. We showed that RNA silencing against a green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter gene in the protoplasts could be induced rapidly and specifically by co-transfection with the reporter gene and various silencing inducers [i.e. siRNA, double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) or plasmid encoding dsRNA]. Using this system, we uncovered novel roles of some viral suppressors. Notably, the Cucumber mosaic virus 2b protein, shown previously to function predominantly by preventing the long-distance transmission of systemic silencing signals, was a very strong silencing suppressor in the protoplasts. Some suppressors thought to interfere with upstream steps of siRNA production appeared to also act downstream. Therefore, a viral suppressor can affect multiple steps of the RNA silencing pathway. Our analyses suggest that protoplast-based transient RNA silencing is a useful experimental system to investigate the functions of viral suppressors and further dissect the mechanistic details of the RNA silencing pathway in single cells.[1]


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