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Publikation

Serra, P.; Carbonell, A.; Navarro, B.; Gago-Zachert, S.; Li, S.; Di Serio, F.; Flores, R. Symptomatic plant viroid infections in phytopathogenic fungi: A request for a critical reassessment Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 117, 10126-10128, (2020) DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1922249117

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Publikation

Gago-Zachert, S.; Schuck, J.; Weinholdt, C.; Knoblich, M.; Pantaleo, V.; Grosse, I.; Gursinsky, T.; Behrens, S.-E. Highly efficacious antiviral protection of plants by small interfering RNAs identified in vitro Nucleic Acids Res 47, 9343-9357, (2019) DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkz678

In response to a viral infection, the plant’s RNA silencing machinery processes viral RNAs into a huge number of small interfering RNAs (siRNAs). However, a very few of these siRNAs actually interfere with viral replication. A reliable approach to identify these immunologically effective siRNAs (esiRNAs) and to define the characteristics underlying their activity has not been available so far. Here, we develop a novel screening approach that enables a rapid functional identification of antiviral esiRNAs. Tests on the efficacy of such identified esiRNAs of a model virus achieved a virtual full protection of plants against a massive subsequent infection in transient applications. We find that the functionality of esiRNAs depends crucially on two properties: the binding affinity to Argonaute proteins and the ability to access the target RNA. The ability to rapidly identify functional esiRNAs could be of great benefit for all RNA silencing-based plant protection measures against viruses and other pathogens.
Publikation

García, M. L.; Bó, E. D.; da Graça, J. V.; Gago-Zachert, S.; Hammond, J.; Moreno, P.; Natsuaki, T.; Pallás, V.; Navarro, J. A.; Reyes, C. A.; Luna, G. R.; Sasaya, T.; Tzanetakis, I. E.; Vaira, A. M.; Verbeek, M.; ICTV Report Consortium Corrigendum: ICTV Virus Taxonomy Profile: Ophioviridae J Gen Virol 99, 949-949, (2018) DOI: 10.1099/jgv.0.001093

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Publikation

García, M. L.; Bó, E. D.; da Graça, J. V.; Gago-Zachert, S.; Hammond, J.; Moreno, P.; Natsuaki, T.; Pallás, V.; Navarro, J. A.; Reyes, C. A.; Luna, G. R.; Sasaya, T.; Tzanetakis, I. E.; Vaira, A. M.; Verbeek, M.; ICTV Report Consortium ICTV Virus Taxonomy Profile: Ophioviridae J Gen Virol 98 , 1161-1162, (2017) DOI: 10.1099/jgv.0.000836

Ophioviridae,The Ophioviridae is a family of filamentous plant viruses, with single-stranded negative, and possibly ambisense, RNA genomes of 11.3–12.5 kb divided into 3–4 segments, each encapsidated separately. Virions are naked filamentous nucleocapsids, forming kinked circles of at least two different contour lengths. The sole genus, Ophiovirus, includes seven species. Four ophioviruses are soil-transmitted and their natural hosts include trees, shrubs, vegetables and bulbous or corm-forming ornamentals, both monocots and dicots. This is a summary of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) Report on the taxonomy of the which is available at http://www.ictv.global/report/ophioviridae.
Publikation

López-Carrasco, A.; Ballesteros, C.; Sentandreu, V.; Delgado, S.; Gago-Zachert, S.; Flores, R.; Sanjuán, R. Different rates of spontaneous mutation of chloroplastic and nuclear viroids as determined by high-fidelity ultra-deep sequencing PLOS Pathog 13, e1006547, (2017) DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1006547

Mutation rates vary by orders of magnitude across biological systems, being higher for simpler genomes. The simplest known genomes correspond to viroids, subviral plant replicons constituted by circular non-coding RNAs of few hundred bases. Previous work has revealed an extremely high mutation rate for chrysanthemum chlorotic mottle viroid, a chloroplast-replicating viroid. However, whether this is a general feature of viroids remains unclear. Here, we have used high-fidelity ultra-deep sequencing to determine the mutation rate in a common host (eggplant) of two viroids, each representative of one family: the chloroplastic eggplant latent viroid (ELVd, Avsunviroidae) and the nuclear potato spindle tuber viroid (PSTVd, Pospiviroidae). This revealed higher mutation frequencies in ELVd than in PSTVd, as well as marked differences in the types of mutations produced. Rates of spontaneous mutation, quantified in vivo using the lethal mutation method, ranged from 1/1000 to 1/800 for ELVd and from 1/7000 to 1/3800 for PSTVd depending on sequencing run. These results suggest that extremely high mutability is a common feature of chloroplastic viroids, whereas the mutation rates of PSTVd and potentially other nuclear viroids appear significantly lower and closer to those of some RNA viruses.
Bücher und Buchkapitel

Flores, R.; Gago-Zachert, S.; De la Peña, M.; Navarro, B. Chrysanthemum Chlorotic Mottle Viroid (Ed. A. Hadidi, et al.). 331-338, (2017) ISBN: eBook ISBN: 9780128017029; Hardcover ISBN: 9780128014981. DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-12-801498-1.00031-0

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Publikation

Gago-Zachert, S. Viroids, infectious long non-coding RNAs with autonomous replication. Virus Res. 212, 12–24, (2016) DOI: 10.1016/j.virusres.2015.08.018

Transcriptome deep-sequencing studies performed during the last years confirmed that the vast majority of the RNAs transcribed in higher organisms correspond to several types of non-coding RNAs including long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). The study of lncRNAs and the identification of their functions, is still an emerging field in plants but the characterization of some of them indicate that they play an important role in crucial regulatory processes like flowering regulation, and responses to abiotic stress and plant hormones. A second group of lncRNAs present in plants is formed by viroids, exogenous infectious subviral plant pathogens well known since many years. Viroids are composed of circular RNA genomes without protein-coding capacity and subvert enzymatic activities of their hosts to complete its own biological cycle. Different aspects of viroid biology and viroid-host interactions have been elucidated in the last years and some of them are the main topic of this review together with the analysis of the state-of-the-art about the growing field of endogenous lncRNAs in plants.
Publikation

López-Carrasco, A.; Gago-Zachert, S.; Mileti, G.; Minoia, S.; Flores, R.; Delgado, S. The transcription initiation sites of eggplant latent viroid strands map within distinct motifs in their in vivo RNA conformations RNA Biology 13, 83-97, (2016) DOI: 10.1080/15476286.2015.1119365

Eggplant latent viroid (ELVd), like other members of family Avsunviroidae, replicates in plastids through a symmetric rolling-circle mechanism in which elongation of RNA strands is most likely catalyzed by a nuclear-encoded polymerase (NEP) translocated to plastids. Here we have addressed where NEP initiates transcription of viroid strands. Because this step is presumably directed by sequence/structural motifs, we have previously determined the conformation of the monomeric linear (+) and (−) RNAs of ELVd resulting from hammerhead-mediated self-cleavage. In silico predictions with 3 softwares led to similar bifurcated conformations for both ELVd strands. In vitro examination by non-denaturing PAGE showed that they migrate as prominent single bands, with the ELVd (+) RNA displaying a more compact conformation as revealed by its faster electrophoretic mobility. In vitro SHAPE analysis corroborated the ELVd conformations derived from thermodynamics-based predictions in silico. Moreover, sequence analysis of 94 full-length natural ELVd variants disclosed co-variations, and mutations converting canonical into wobble pairs or vice versa, which confirmed in vivo most of the stems predicted in silico and in vitro, and additionally helped to introduce minor structural refinements. Therefore, results from the 3 experimental approaches were essentially consistent among themselves. Application to RNA preparations from ELVd-infected tissue of RNA ligase-mediated rapid amplification of cDNA ends, combined with pretreatments to modify the 5′ ends of viroid strands, mapped the transcription initiation sites of ELVd (+) and (−) strands in vivo at different sequence/structural motifs, in contrast with the situation previously observed in 2 other members of the family Avsunviroidae.
Publikation

Maldonado-Bonilla, L.D.; Eschen-Lippold, L.; Gago-Zachert, S.; Tabassum, N.; Bauer, N.; Scheel, D.; Lee, J. The Arabidopsis tandem zinc finger 9 protein binds RNA and mediates pathogen-associated molecular pattern-triggered immune responses Plant Cell Physiol. 55, 412-425, (2014) DOI: 10.1093/pcp/pct175

Recognition of pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) induces multiple defense mechanisms to limit pathogen growth. Here, we show that the Arabidopsis thaliana tandem zinc finger protein 9 (TZF9) is phosphorylated by PAMP-responsive mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) and is required to trigger a full PAMP-triggered immune response. Analysis of a tzf9 mutant revealed attenuation in specific PAMP-triggered reactions such as reactive oxygen species accumulation, MAPK activation and, partially, the expression of several PAMP-responsive genes. In accordance with these weaker PAMP-triggered responses, tzf9 mutant plants exhibit enhanced susceptibility to virulent Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato DC3000. Visualization of TZF9 localization by fusion to green fluorescent protein revealed cytoplasmic foci that co-localize with marker proteins of processing bodies (P-bodies). This localization pattern is affected by inhibitor treatments that limit mRNA availability (such as cycloheximide or actinomycin D) or block nuclear export (leptomycin B). Coupled with its ability to bind the ribohomopolymers poly(rU) and poly(rG), these results suggest involvement of TZF9 in post-transcriptional regulation, such as mRNA processing or storage pathways, to regulate plant innate immunity. 
Publikation

Flores, R.; Gago-Zachert, S.; Serra, P.; Sanjuán, R.; Elena, S. F. Viroids: Survivors from the RNA World? Annual Rev Microbiol 68, 395 - 414, (2014) DOI: 10.1146/annurev-micro-091313-103416

Because RNA can be a carrier of genetic information and a biocatalyst, there is a consensus that it emerged before DNA and proteins, which eventually assumed these roles and relegated RNA to intermediate functions. If such a scenario—the so-called RNA world—existed, we might hope to find its relics in our present world. The properties of viroids that make them candidates for being survivors of the RNA world include those expected for primitive RNA replicons: (a) small size imposed by error-prone replication, (b) high G+ C content to increase replication fidelity, (c) circular structure for assuring complete replication without genomic tags, (d) structural periodicity for modular assembly into enlarged genomes, (e) lack of protein-coding ability consistent with a ribosome-free habitat, and (f) replication mediated in some by ribozymes, the fingerprint of the RNA world. With the advent of DNA and proteins, those protoviroids lost some abilities and became the plant parasites we now know.
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