An antiviral RISC isolated from Tobacco rattle virus-infected plants. Academic Article uri icon


  • The RNAi model predicts that during antiviral defense a RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC) is programmed with viral short-interfering RNAs (siRNAs) to target the cognate viral RNA for degradation. We show that infection of Nicotiana benthamiana with Tobacco rattle virus (TRV) activates an antiviral nuclease that specifically cleaves TRV RNA in vitro. In agreement with known RISC properties, the nuclease activity was inhibited by NaCl and EDTA and stimulated by divalent metal cations; a novel property was its preferential targeting of elongated RNA molecules. Intriguingly, the specificity of the TRV RISC could be reprogrammed by exogenous addition of RNA (containing siRNAs) from plants infected with an unrelated virus, resulting in a newly acquired ability of RISC to target this heterologous genome in vitro. Evidently the virus-specific nuclease complex from N. benthamiana represents a genuine RISC that functions as a readily employable and reprogrammable antiviral defense unit.

published proceedings

  • Virology

author list (cited authors)

  • Ciomperlik, J. J., Omarov, R. T., & Scholthof, H. B.

citation count

  • 11

complete list of authors

  • Ciomperlik, Jessica J||Omarov, Rustem T||Scholthof, Herman B

publication date

  • March 2011