Cajal bodies (CBs) are distinct nuclear bodies physically and functionally associated with the nucleolus. In addition to their traditional function in coordinating maturation of certain nuclear RNAs, CBs participate in cell cycle regulation, development, and regulation of stress responses. A key "signature" component of CBs is coilin, the scaffolding protein essential for CB formation and function. Using an RNA silencing (loss-of-function) approach, we describe here new phenomena whereby coilin also affects directly or indirectly, a variety of interactions between host plants and viruses that have RNA or DNA genomes. Moreover, the effects of coilin on these interactions are manifested differently: coilin contributes to plant defense against tobacco rattle virus (tobravirus), tomato black ring virus (nepovirus), barley stripe mosaic virus (hordeivirus) and tomato golden mosaic virus (begomovirus). In contrast, with potato virus Y (potyvirus) and turnip vein clearing virus (tobamovirus), coilin serves to increase virus pathogenicity. These findings show that interactions with coilin (or CBs) may involve diverse mechanisms with different viruses, and that these mechanisms act at different phases of virus infection. Thus coilin (CBs) has novel, unexpected natural functions that may be recruited or subverted by plant viruses for their own needs or, in contrast, are involved in plant defense mechanisms that suppress host susceptibility to the viruses.