Plant YTHDF proteins are direct effectors of antiviral immunity against an N6-methyladenosine-containing RNA virus

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In virus–host interactions, nucleic acid-directed first lines of defense that allow viral clearance without compromising growth are of paramount importance. Plants use the RNA interference pathway as a basal antiviral immune system, but additional RNA-based mechanisms of defense also exist. The infectivity of a plant positive-strand RNA virus, alfalfa mosaic virus (AMV), relies on the demethylation of viral RNA by the recruitment of the cellular N6-methyladenosine (m6A) demethylase ALKBH9B, but how demethylation of viral RNA promotes AMV infection remains unknown. Here, we show that inactivation of the Arabidopsis cytoplasmic YT521-B homology domain (YTH)-containing m6A-binding proteins ECT2, ECT3, and ECT5 is sufficient to restore AMV infectivity in partially resistant alkbh9b mutants. We further show that the antiviral function of ECT2 is distinct from its previously demonstrated function in the promotion of primordial cell proliferation: an ect2 mutant carrying a small deletion in its intrinsically disordered region is partially compromised for antiviral defense but not for developmental functions. These results indicate that the m6A-YTHDF axis constitutes a novel branch of basal antiviral immunity in plants.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere113378
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number18
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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© 2023 The Authors. Published under the terms of the CC BY NC ND 4.0 license.

    Research areas

  • ECTs, IDRs, N6-methyladenosine (mA), plant–virus interaction, RNA methylation

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