Prof. Yi Li published a paper on Molecular Plant with collaborator.
Many microRNAs (miRNAs) are critical regulators of plant antiviral defense. However, little is known about how these miRNAs respond to virus invasion at the transcriptional level. We previously show that defense against Rice stripe virus (RSV) invasion entailed a reduction of miR528 accumulation in rice, alleviating miR528-mediated degradation of L-Ascorbate Oxidase (AO) mRNA and bolstering the antiviral activity of AO. Here we show that the miR528-AO defense module is regulated by the transcription factor SPL9. SPL9 displayed high-affinity binding to specific motifs within the promoter region of miR528 and activated the expression of miR528 gene in vivo. Loss-of-function mutations in SPL9 caused a significant reduction in miR528 accumulation but a substantial increase of AO mRNA, resulting in enhanced plant resistance to RSV. Conversely, transgenic overexpression of SPL9 stimulated the expression of miR528 gene, hence lowering the level of AO mRNA and compromising rice defense against RSV. Importantly, gain in RSV susceptibility did not occur when SPL9 was overexpressed in mir528 loss-of-function mutants, or in transgenic rice expressing a miR528-resistant AO. Taken together, the finding of SPL9-mediated transcriptional activation of miR528 expression adds a new regulatory layer to the miR528-AO antiviral defense pathway.