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Scientific reports

Crispr/Cas9 Mediated Inactivation of Argonaute 2 Reveals its Differential Involvement in Antiviral Responses.


PMID 28432338

Abstract

RNA silencing constitutes an important antiviral mechanism in plants. Small RNA guided Argonaute proteins fulfill essential role in this process by acting as executors of viral restriction. Plants encode multiple Argonaute proteins of which several exhibit antiviral activities. A recent addition to this group is AGO2. Its involvement in antiviral responses is established predominantly by studies employing mutants of Arabidopsis thaliana. In the virological model plant, Nicotiana benthamiana, the contribution of AGO2 to antiviral immunity is much less certain due to the lack of appropriate genetic mutants. Previous studies employed various RNAi based tools to down-regulate AGO2 expression. However, these techniques have several disadvantages, especially in the context of antiviral RNA silencing. Here, we have utilized the CRISPR/Cas9 technology to inactivate the AGO2 gene of N. benthamiana. The ago2 plants exhibit differential sensitivities towards various viruses. AGO2 is a critical component of the plants' immune responses against PVX, TuMV and TCV. In contrast, AGO2 deficiency does not significantly influence the progression of tombusvirus and CMV infections. In summary, our work provides unequivocal proof for the virus-specific antiviral role of AGO2 in a plant species other than A. thaliana for the first time.