Transcriptional reprogramming caused by the geminivirus Tomato yellow leaf curl virus in local or systemic infections in Nicotiana benthamiana
Viruses have evolved to create a cellular environment permissive for viral replication in susceptible hosts. Possibly both enabling and resulting from these virus-triggered changes, infected hosts undergo a dramatic transcriptional reprogramming, the analysis of which can shed light on the molecular processes underlying the outcome of virus-host interactions. The study of the transcriptional changes triggered by the plant DNA viruses geminiviruses is potentially hampered by the low representation of infected cells in the total population, a situation that becomes extreme in those cases, like that of Tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV), in which the virus is restricted to phloem companion cells. In order to gain insight into how different the transcriptional landscapes of TYLCV-infected cells or whole tissues of TYLCV-infected plants might be, here we compare the transcriptional changes in leaf patches infected with TYLCV by agroinfiltration or in systemic leaves of TYLCV-infected plants in Nicotiana benthamiana. Our results show that, in agreement with previous works, infection by TYLCV induces a dramatic transcriptional reprogramming; the detected changes, however, are not equivalent in local and systemic infections, with a much larger number of genes differentially expressed locally, and some genes responding in an opposite manner. Interestingly, a transcriptional repression of the auxin signalling pathway and a transcriptional activation of the ethylene signalling pathway were detected in both local and systemically infected samples. A transcriptional activation of defence was also detectable in both cases. Comparison with the transcriptional changes induced by systemic infection by the geminivirus Tobacco curly shoot virus (TbSV) shows common subsets of up- and down-regulated genes similarly affected by both viral species, unveiling a common transcriptional repression of terpenoid biosynthesis, a process also suppressed by the geminivirus Tomato yellow leaf curl China virus. Taken together, the results presented here not only offer insight into the transcriptional changes derived from the infection by TYLCV in N. benthamiana, but also demonstrate that the resolution provided by local and systemic infection approaches largely differs, highlighting the urge to come up with a better system to gain an accurate view of the molecular and physiological changes caused by the viral invasion.