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Title: Mobile Host mRNAs Are Translated to Protein in the Associated Parasitic Plant Cuscuta campestris
Cuscuta spp. are obligate parasites that connect to host vascular tissue using a haustorium. In addition to water, nutrients, and metabolites, a large number of mRNAs are bidirectionally exchanged between Cuscuta spp. and their hosts. This trans-specific movement of mRNAs raises questions about whether these molecules function in the recipient species. To address the possibility that mobile mRNAs are ultimately translated, we built upon recent studies that demonstrate a role for transfer RNA (tRNA)-like structures (TLSs) in enhancing mRNA systemic movement. C. campestris was grown on Arabidopsis that expressed a β-glucuronidase (GUS) reporter transgene either alone or in GUS-tRNA fusions. Histochemical staining revealed localization in tissue of C. campestris grown on Arabidopsis with GUS-tRNA fusions, but not in C. campestris grown on Arabidopsis with GUS alone. This corresponded with detection of GUS transcripts in Cuscuta on Arabidopsis with GUS-tRNA, but not in C. campestris on Arabidopsis with GUS alone. Similar results were obtained with Arabidopsis host plants expressing the same constructs containing an endoplasmic reticulum localization signal. In C. campestris, GUS activity was localized in the companion cells or phloem parenchyma cells adjacent to sieve tubes. We conclude that host-derived GUS mRNAs are translated in C. campestris and that the more » TLS fusion enhances RNA mobility in the host-parasite interactions. « less
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