Background: RNA-DEPENDENT RNA POLYMERASE6 (RDR6) and SUPPRESSOR of GENE SILENCING 3 (SGS3) are required for DNA methylation and post-transcriptional gene silencing (PTGS) mediated by 21-nt siRNAs produced by sense transgenes (S-PTGS). In contrast, RDR2, but not RDR6, is required for DNA methylation and TGS mediated by 24-nt siRNAs, and for cell-to-cell spreading of IR-PTGS mediated by 21-nt siRNAs produced by inverted repeat transgenes under the control of a phloem-specific promoter.
Principal findings: In this study, we examined the role of RDR2 and RDR6 in S-PTGS. Unlike RDR6, RDR2 is not required for DNA methylation of transgenes subjected to S-PTGS. RDR6 is essential for the production of siRNAs by transgenes subjected to S-PTGS, but RDR2 also contributes to the production of transgene siRNAs when RDR6 is present because rdr2 mutations reduce transgene siRNA accumulation. However, the siRNAs produced via RDR2 likely are counteractive in wildtype plants because impairement of RDR2 increases S-PTGS efficiency at a transgenic locus that triggers limited silencing, and accelerates S-PTGS at a transgenic locus that triggers efficient silencing.
Conclusions/significance: These results suggest that RDR2 and RDR6 compete for RNA substrates produced by transgenes subjected to S-PTGS. RDR2 partially antagonizes RDR6 because RDR2 action likely results in the production of counteractive siRNA. As a result, S-PTGS efficiency is increased in rdr2 mutants.