RNA silencing has been adopted to develop virus-resistant plants through expression of virus-derived hairpin RNAs. Due to the high sequence specificity of RNA silencing, this technology has been limited to the targeting of single viruses. Simultaneous targeting of multiple viruses or plant genes can be achieved by using a chimeric cassette. In this study, a simple method was developed to construct chimeric hairpin RNA rapidly and efficiently. This method splices two DNA fragments from viruses or plant genes to be a chimeric sequence using Overlap Extension PCR (OE-PCR); then this chimeric sequence was assembled with an intron sequence to generate an intron-containing hairpin RNA construct in one step mediated by OE-PCR. This method is neither dependent on restriction enzymes nor requires expensive consumables, so a chimeric hairpin RNA can be constructed rapidly and costlessly. Two chimeric hairpin RNA constructs were amplified successfully using this method, with the targeting sequences from both papaya ringspot virus (PRSV) and two plant genes encoding translation initiation factors eIF4E and eIFiso4E. This novel method is a useful strategy to construct chimeric hairpin RNA for RNA silencing in plants.
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