Date: 16th March 2022
Title: Resistance to viruses by loss-of-susceptibility: from natural variation to edited genes
Location: Auditorium 2, Viikki C building, Latokartanonkaari 5, and remotely via Zoom
Host: Kristiina Mäkinen
Abstract: eIF4E translation initiation factors have emerged as major susceptibility factors for RNA viruses. Natural eIF4E-based resistance alleles are found in many species and are mostly variants that maintain the translation function of the protein. eIF4E genes represent therefore targets for engineering viral resistance, and gene-editing technologies can be used to make up for the lack of natural resistance alleles in some crops. However, redundancy among eIF4E genes can restrict the efficient use of knockout alleles in breeding. Using Arabidopsis, we previously showed how gene-editing technologies can be used to design de novo functional alleles, using knowledge about the natural evolution of eIF4E genes in different species, to drive resistance to viruses without affecting plant physiology. Here, we will also present how this knowledge can be applied to a crop, tomato, using CRISPR-Cas9 base editing. We will show that there is a trade-off to find between resistance and functionality, and discuss these results in the light of resistance durability.
Jean-Luc's research focuses on developing genetic resistances to viruses in plants.
To successfully infect plants, viruses have to hijack host factors. Those can be turned into genetic resistances by making them unavailable to the pathogens. We aim at characterizing plant susceptibility factors in plants and develop genetic resistances to viruses of agricultural importance. We are particularly interested in assessing how genome editing technologies can be used to copy mutations across species and develop resistances.