Viral class 1 RNase III involved in suppression of RNA silencing

Double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)-specific endonucleases belonging to RNase III classes 3 and 2 process dsRNA precursors to small interfering RNA (siRNA) or microRNA, respectively, thereby initiating and amplifying RNA silencing-based antiviral defense and gene regulation in eukaryotic cells. However, we now provide evidence that a class 1 RNase III is involved in suppression of RNA silencing. The single-stranded RNA genome of sweet potato chlorotic stunt virus (SPCSV) encodes an RNase III (RNase3) homologous to putative class 1 RNase IIIs of unknown function in rice and Arabidopsis. We show that RNase3 has dsRNA-specific endonuclease activity that enhances the RNA-silencing suppression activity of another protein (p22) encoded by SPCSV. RNase3 and p22 coexpression reduced siRNA accumulation more efficiently than p22 alone in Nicotiana benthamiana leaves expressing a strong silencing inducer (i.e., dsRNA). RNase3 did not cause intracellular silencing suppression or reduce accumulation of siRNA in the absence of p22 or enhance silencing suppression activity of a protein encoded by a heterologous virus. No other known RNA virus encodes an RNase III or uses two independent proteins cooperatively for RNA silencing suppression.

Citation: Kreuze, J.F.; Savenkov, E.I.; Cuellar, W.; Li, X.; Valkonen, J.P.T. 2005. Viral class 1 RNase III involved in suppression of RNA silencing. Journal of Virology. (USA). ISSN 0022-538X. 79(11):7227-7238.