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Open Access Research article

Organ-specific alterations in tobacco transcriptome caused by the PVX-derived P25 silencing suppressor transgene

Balaji Jada, Arto J Soitamo and Kirsi Lehto*

Author Affiliations

Department of Biochemistry and Food Chemistry, Laboratory of Molecular Plant Biology, University of Turku, Itäinen pitkäkatu 4B, 6. floor, PharmaCity, FI-20520, Finland

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BMC Plant Biology 2013, 13:8  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-13-8

Published: 8 January 2013



RNA silencing affects a broad range of regulatory processes in all eukaryotes ranging from chromatin structure maintenance to transcriptional and translational regulation and longevity of the mRNAs. Particularly in plants, it functions as the major defense mechanism against viruses. To counter-act this defense, plant viruses produce suppressors of RNA silencing (Viral suppressors of RNA silencing, VSRSs), which are essential for viruses to invade their specific host plants. Interactions of these VSRSs with the hosts’ silencing pathways, and their direct and indirect interference with different cellular regulatory networks constitute one of the main lines of the molecular virus-host interactions. Here we have used a microarray approach to study the effects of the Potato virus X Potexvirus (PVX)-specific P25 VSRS protein on the transcript profile of tobacco plants, when expressed as a transgene in these plants.


The expression of the PVX-specific P25 silencing suppressor in transgenic tobacco plants caused significant up-regulation of 1350 transcripts, but down-regulation of only five transcripts in the leaves, and up- and down-regulation of 51 and 13 transcripts, respectively, in the flowers of these plants, as compared to the wild type control plants. Most of the changes occurred in the transcripts related to biotic and abiotic stresses, transcription regulation, signaling, metabolic pathways and cell wall modifications, and many of them appeared to be induced through up-regulation of the signaling pathways regulated by ethylene, jasmonic acid and salicylic acid. Correlations of these alterations with the protein profile and related biological functions were analyzed. Surprisingly, they did not cause significant alterations in the protein profile, and caused only very mild alteration in the phenotype of the P25-expressing transgenic plants.


Expression of the PVX-specific P25 VSRS protein causes major alterations in the transcriptome of the leaves of transgenic tobacco plants, but very little of any effects in the young flowers of the same plants. The fairly stable protein profile in the leaves and lack of any major changes in the plant phenotype indicate that the complicated interplay and interactions between different regulatory levels are able to maintain homeostasis in the plants.