The Plant journal : for cell and molecular biology

Salicylic acid-mediated and RNA-silencing defense mechanisms cooperate in the restriction of systemic spread of plum pox virus in tobacco.

PMID 17018032


Plum pox virus (PPV) is able to replicate in inoculated leaves of Nicotiana tabacum, but is defective in systemic movement in this host. However, PPV produces a systemic infection in transgenic tobacco expressing the silencing suppressor P1/HC-Pro from tobacco etch virus (TEV). In this work we show that PPV is able to move to upper non-inoculated leaves of tobacco plants expressing bacterial salicylate hydroxylase (NahG) that degrades salicylic acid (SA). Replication and accumulation of PPV is higher in the locally infected leaves of plants deficient in SA or expressing TEV P1/HC-Pro silencing suppressor. Accumulation of viral derived small RNAs was reduced in the NahG transgenic plants, suggesting that SA might act as an enhancer of the RNA-silencing antiviral defense in tobacco. Besides, expression of SA-mediated defense transcripts, such as those of pathogenesis-related (PR) proteins PR-1 and PR-2 or alternative oxidase-1, as well as that of the putative RNA-dependent RNA polymerase NtRDR1, is induced in response to PPV infection, and the expression patterns of these defense transcripts are altered in the TEV P1/HC-Pro transgenic plants. Long-distance movement of PPV is highly enhanced in NahG x P1/HC-Pro double-transgenic plants and systemic symptoms in these plants reveal that the expression of an RNA-silencing suppressor and the lack of SA produce additive but distinct effects. Our results suggest that SA might act as an enhancer of the RNA-silencing antiviral defense in tobacco, and that silencing suppressors, such as P1/HC-Pro, also alter the SA-mediated defense. Both an RNA-silencing and an SA-mediated defense mechanism could act together to limit PPV infection.