The gene encoding RNA-dependent RNA polymerase 1 (RDR1) is involved in basal resistance to several viruses. Expression of the RDR1 gene also is induced in resistance to Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) mediated by the N gene in tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum cv. Samsun NN) in an incompatible hypersensitive response, as well as in a compatible response against Potato virus Y (PVY). Reducing the accumulation of NtRDR1 transcripts by RNA inhibition mediated by transgenic expression of a double-stranded RNA hairpin corresponding to part of the RDR1 gene resulted in little or no induction of accumulation of RDR1 transcripts after infection by PVY. Plants with lower accumulation of RDR1 transcripts showed much higher accumulation levels of PVY. Reduced accumulation of NtRDR1 transcripts also resulted in lower or no induced expression of three other antiviral, defense-related genes after infection by PVY. These genes encoded a mitochondrial alternative oxidase, an inhibitor of virus replication (IVR), and a transcription factor, ERF5, all involved in resistance to infection by TMV, as well as RDR6, involved in RNA silencing. The extent of the effect on the induced NtIVR and NtERF5 genes correlated with the extent of suppression of the NtRDR1 gene.
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