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Science 328 (5980): 912-916

Copyright © 2010 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Small RNA Duplexes Function as Mobile Silencing Signals Between Plant Cells

Patrice Dunoyer,1,* Gregory Schott,1 Christophe Himber,1 Denise Meyer,1 Atsushi Takeda,2 James C. Carrington,2 Olivier Voinnet1,*

Abstract: In the plant RNA interference (RNAi) pathway, 21-nucleotide duplexes of small interfering RNA (siRNA) are processed from longer double-stranded RNA precursors by the RNaseIII Dicer-like 4 (DCL4). Single-stranded siRNAs then guide Argonaute 1 (AGO1) to execute posttranscriptional silencing of complementary target RNAs. RNAi is not cell-autonomous in higher plants, but the nature of the mobile nucleic acid(s) signal remains unknown. Using cell-specific rescue of DCL4 function and cell-specific inhibition of RNAi movement, we genetically establish that exogenous and endogenous siRNAs, as opposed to their precursor molecules, act as mobile silencing signals between plant cells. We further demonstrate physical movement of mechanically delivered, labeled siRNA duplexes that functionally recapitulate transgenic RNAi spread. Cell-to-cell movement is unlikely to involve AGO1-bound siRNA single strands, but instead likely involves siRNA duplexes.

1 Institut de Biologie Moléculaire des Plantes du CNRS, Université de Strasbourg 12 rue du Général Zimmer, 67084 Strasbourg cedex, France.
2 Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: patrice.dunoyer{at}ibmp-ulp.u-strasbg.fr (P.D.); olivier.voinnet{at}ibmp-ulp.u-strasbg.fr (O.V.)


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