[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Virus infection in plants is limited by RNA silencing. In turn, viruses can counter RNA silencing with silencing suppressors. Viral suppressors of RNA silencing have been shown to play a role in symptom development in plants. We here study four different strategies employed by silencing suppressors: small interfering RNA (siRNA) binding, double-strand RNA (dsRNA) binding and degrading or inactivating Argonaute. We study the effect of the suppressors on viral accumulation within the cell as well as its spread on a tissue with mathematical and computational models. We find that suppressors which target Argonaute are very effective in a single cell, but that targeting dsRNA or siRNA is much more effective at the tissue level. Although targeting Argonaute can be beneficial for viral spread, it can also cause hindrance in some cases owing to raised levels of siRNAs that can spread to other cells.
Journal of The Royal Society Interface 08/2011; 9(68):436-47. · 4.91 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: RNA silencing has been implicated in virus symptom development in plants. One common infection symptom in plants is the formation of chlorotic tissue in leaves. Chlorotic and healthy tissue co-occur on a single leaf and form patterns. It has been shown that virus levels in chlorotic tissue are high, while they are low in healthy tissue. Additionally, the presence of siRNAs is confined to the chlorotic spots and the boundaries between healthy and infected tissue. These results strongly indicate that the interaction between virus growth and RNA silencing plays a role in the formation of infection patterns on leaves. However, how RNA silencing leads to the intricate patterns is not known.
Here we elucidate the mechanisms leading to infection patterns and the conditions which lead to the various patterns observed. We present a modeling approach in which we combine intra- and inter-cellular dynamics of RNA silencing and viral growth. We observe that, due to the spread of viruses and the RNA silencing response, parts of the tissue become infected while other parts remain healthy. As is observed in experiments high virus levels coincide with high levels of siRNAs, and siRNAs are also present in the boundaries between infected and healthy tissue. We study how single- and double-stranded cleavage by Dicer and amplification by RNA-dependent RNA polymerase can affect the patterns formed.
This work shows that RNA silencing and virus growth within a cell, and the local spread of virions and siRNAs between cells can explain the heterogeneous spread of virus in leaf tissue, and therewith the observed infection patterns in plants.
BMC Systems Biology 12/2008; 2:105. · 2.98 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mathematical modeling is important to provide insight in the complicated pathway of RNA silencing. RNA silencing is an RNA based mechanism that is widely used by eukaryotes to fight viruses, and to control gene expression.
We here present the first mathematical model that combines viral growth with RNA silencing. The model involves a plus-strand RNA virus that replicates through a double-strand RNA intermediate. The model of the RNA silencing pathway consists of cleavage of viral RNA into siRNA by Dicer, target cleavage of viral RNA via the RISC complex, and a secondary response. We found that, depending on the strength of the silencing response, different viral growth patterns can occur. Silencing can decrease viral growth, cause oscillations, or clear the virus completely. Our model can explain various observed phenomena, even when they seem contradictory at first: the diverse responses to the removal of RNA dependent RNA polymerase; different viral growth curves; and the great diversity in observed siRNA ratios.
The model presented here is an important step in the understanding of the natural functioning of RNA silencing in viral infections.
BMC Systems Biology 02/2008; 2:28. · 2.98 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cellular pathways are generally proposed on the basis of available experimental knowledge. The proposed pathways, however, may be inadequate to describe the phenomena they are supposed to explain. For instance, by means of concise mathematical models we are able to reveal shortcomings in the current description of the pathway of RNA silencing. The silencing pathway operates by cleaving siRNAs from dsRNA. siRNAs can associate with RISC, leading to the degradation of the target mRNA. We propose and analyze a few small extensions to the pathway: a siRNA degrading RNase, primed amplification of aberrant RNA pieces, and cooperation between aberrant RNA to trigger amplification. These extensions allow for a consistent explanation for various types of silencing phenomena, such as virus induced silencing, transgene and transposon induced silencing, and avoidance of self-reactivity, as well as for differences found between species groups.