Co-inoculation of Nicotiana benthamiana plants with in vitro transcripts of both genomic and short defective interfering (DI) RNAs of Cymbidium ringspot virus results in an accumulation of de novo generated DI RNA dimers. Time-course analysis of DI RNA accumulation in the inoculated leaves showed early accumulation of DI RNA dimers followed by increased levels of DI RNA monomers. In contrast, DI RNA dimers were barely detectable in systems where cell-to-cell movement does not take place (protoplasts) or is less important (monomeric DI RNA-expressing transgenic plants). Our results also demonstrated that the size of DI RNAs is important in the colonization of inoculated leaves, suggesting that DI RNA dimers are quickly selected for cell-to-cell movement if short DI RNA monomers are used for infection.
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