Published on Mon Sep 06 2021

A DCL3 dicing code within Pol IV-RDR2 transcripts diversifies the siRNA pool guiding RNA-directed DNA methylation

Loffer, A., Singh, J., Fukudome, A., Mishra, V., Wang, F., Pikaard, C. S.

In plants, selfish genetic elements including retrotransposons and DNA viruses are transcriptionally silenced by RNA-directed DNA methylation. Guiding the process are short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) cut by DICER-LIKE 3.

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Abstract

In plants, selfish genetic elements including retrotransposons and DNA viruses are transcriptionally silenced by RNA-directed DNA methylation. Guiding the process are short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) cut by DICER-LIKE 3 (DCL3) from double-stranded precursors of ~30 bp synthesized by NUCLEAR RNA POLYMERASE IV (Pol IV) and RNA-DEPENDENT RNA POLYMERASE 2 (RDR2). We show that Pol IV initiating nucleotide choice, RDR2 initiation 1-2 nt internal to Pol IV transcript ends and RDR2 terminal transferase activity collectively yield a code that influences which end of the precursor is diced and whether 24 or 23 nt siRNAs are generated from the Pol IV or RDR2-transcribed strands. By diversifying the size, sequence, and strand polarity of siRNAs derived from a given precursor, alternative patterns of DCL3 dicing allow maximal siRNA coverage at methylated target loci.