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Epigenetic Changes in Host Ribosomal DNA Promoter Induced by an Asymptomatic Plant Virus Infection

AuthorsPérez-Cañamás, Miryam; Hevia, Elizabeth; Hernández, Carmen
KeywordsRNA virus
DNA methylation
Transcriptional gene silencing
Plant virus
Viral suppressor of RNA silencing
Issue Date28-Apr-2020
PublisherMultidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute
CitationBiology 9(5): 91 (2020)
AbstractDNA cytosine methylation is one of the main epigenetic mechanisms in higher eukaryotes and is considered to play a key role in transcriptional gene silencing. In plants, cytosine methylation can occur in all sequence contexts (CG, CHG, and CHH), and its levels are controlled by multiple pathways, including de novo methylation, maintenance methylation, and demethylation. Modulation of DNA methylation represents a potentially robust mechanism to adjust gene expression following exposure to different stresses. However, the potential involvement of epigenetics in plant-virus interactions has been scarcely explored, especially with regard to RNA viruses. Here, we studied the impact of a symptomless viral infection on the epigenetic status of the host genome. We focused our attention on the interaction between Nicotiana benthamiana and Pelargonium line pattern virus (PLPV, family Tombusviridae), and analyzed cytosine methylation in the repetitive genomic element corresponding to ribosomal DNA (rDNA). Through a combination of bisulfite sequencing and RT-qPCR, we obtained data showing that PLPV infection gives rise to a reduction in methylation at CG sites of the rDNA promoter. Such a reduction correlated with an increase and decrease, respectively, in the expression levels of some key demethylases and of MET1, the DNA methyltransferase responsible for the maintenance of CG methylation. Hypomethylation of rDNA promoter was associated with a five-fold augmentation of rRNA precursor levels. The PLPV protein p37, reported as a suppressor of post-transcriptional gene silencing, did not lead to the same effects when expressed alone and, thus, it is unlikely to act as suppressor of transcriptional gene silencing. Collectively, the results suggest that PLPV infection as a whole is able to modulate host transcriptional activity through changes in the cytosine methylation pattern arising from misregulation of methyltransferases/demethylases balance.
Description© 2020 by the authors.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.3390/biology9050091
Appears in Collections:(IBMCP) Artículos
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