Duran Bao, Xiuqi Cui, Wenhua Bao, Ruonan Yu, Hada Wuriyanghan, Oyunchuluun Ganbaatar, Bryce W. Falk
Plants protect themselves from virus infections by several different defence mechanisms. RNA interference (RNAi) is one prominent antiviral mechanism, which requires the participation of AGO (Argonaute) and Dicer/DCL (Dicer-like) proteins. Effector-triggered immunity (ETI) is an antiviral mechanism mediated by resistance (R) genes, most of which encode nucleotide-binding site-leucine-rich repeat (NBS-LRR) family proteins. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play important regulatory roles in plants, including the regulation of host defences. Soybean mosaic virus (SMV) is the most common virus in soybean and, in this work, we identified dozens of SMV-responsive miRNAs by microarray analysis in an SMV-susceptible soybean line. Amongst the up-regulated miRNAs, miR168a, miR403a, miR162b and miR1515a predictively regulate the expression of AGO1, AGO2, DCL1 and DCL2, respectively, and miR1507a, miR1507c and miR482a putatively regulate the expression of several NBS-LRR family disease resistance genes. The regulation of target gene expression by these seven miRNAs was validated by both transient expression assays and RNA ligase-mediated rapid amplification of cDNA ends (RLM-RACE) experiments. Transcript levels for AGO1, DCL1, DCL2 and five NBS-LRR family genes were repressed at different time points after SMV infection, whereas the corresponding miRNA levels were up-regulated at these same time points. Furthermore, inhibition of miR1507a, miR1507c, miR482a, miR168a and miR1515a by short tandem target mimic (STTM) technology compromised SMV infection efficiency in soybean. Our results imply that SMV can counteract soybean defence responses by the down-regulation of several RNAi pathway genes and NBS-LRR family resistance genes via the induction of the accumulation of their corresponding miRNA levels.