Sequences enhancing cassava mosaic disease symptoms occur in the cassava genome and are associated with South African cassava mosaic virus infection.

Molecular genetics and genomics : MGG

PubMedID: 25920485

Maredza AT, Allie F, Plata G, Rey ME. Sequences enhancing cassava mosaic disease symptoms occur in the cassava genome and are associated with South African cassava mosaic virus infection. Mol Genet Genomics. 2015;.
Cassava is an important food security crop in Sub-Saharan Africa. Two episomal begomovirus-associated sequences, named Sequences Enhancing Geminivirus Symptoms (SEGS1 and SEGS2), were identified in field cassava affected by the devastating cassava mosaic disease (CMD). The sequences reportedly exacerbated CMD symptoms in the tolerant cassava landrace TME3, and the model plants Arabidopsis thaliana and Nicotiana benthamiana, when biolistically co-inoculated with African cassava mosaic virus-Cameroon (ACMV-CM) or East African cassava mosaic virus-UG2 (EACMV-UG2). Following the identification of small SEGS fragments in the cassava EST database, the intention of this study was to confirm their presence in the genome, and investigate a possible role for these sequences in CMD. We report that multiple copies of varying lengths of both SEGS1 and SEGS2 are widely distributed in the sequenced cassava genome and are present in several other cassava accessions screened by PCR. The endogenous SEGS1 and SEGS2 are in close proximity or overlapping with cassava genes, suggesting a possible role in regulation of specific biological processes. We confirm the expression of SEGS in planta using EST data and RT-PCR. The sequence features of endogenous SEGS (iSEGS) are unique but resemble non-autonomous transposable elements (TEs) such as MITEs and helitrons. Furthermore, many SEGS-associated genes, some involved in virus-host interactions, are differentially expressed in susceptible (T200) and tolerant TME3) cassava landraces infected by South African cassava mosaic virus (SACMV) of susceptible (T200) and tolerant (TME3) cassava landraces. Abundant SEGS-derived small RNAs were also present in mock-inoculated and SACMV-infected T200 and TME3 leaves. Given the known role of TEs and associated genes in gene regulation and plant immune responses, our observations are consistent with a role of these DNA elements in the host's regulatory response to geminiviruses.