The multifunctional protein CI of potyviruses plays interlinked and distinct roles in viral genome replication and intercellular movement.

Deng, P., Wu, Z., and Wang, A.M. (2015). "The multifunctional protein CI of potyviruses plays interlinked and distinct roles in viral genome replication and intercellular movement.", Virology Journal, 12(1: Article Number: 369), pp. 1-11. doi : 10.1186/s12985-015-0369-2  Access to full text


Background: The multifunctional cylindrical inclusion (CI) protein of potyviruses contains ATP binding and RNA helicase activities. As part of the viral replication complex, it assists viral genome replication, possibly by binding to RNA and unwinding the RNA duplex. It also functions in viral cell-to-cell movement, likely via the formation of conical structures at plasmodesmata (PD) and the interaction with coat protein (CP). Methods: To further understand the role of CI in the viral infection process, we employed the alanine-scanning mutagenesis approach to mutate CI in the infectious full-length cDNA clone of Turnip mosaic virus (TuMV) tagged by green fluorescent protein. A total of 40 double-substitutions were made at the clustered charged residues. The effect of these mutations on viral genome amplification was determined using a protoplast inoculation assay. All the mutants were also introduced into Nicotiana benthamiana plants to assess their cell-to-cell and long-distance movement. Three cell-to-cell movement-abolished mutants were randomly selected to determine if their mutated CI protein targets PD and interacts with CP by confocal microscopy. Results: Twenty CI mutants were replication-defective (5 abolished and 15 reduced), one produced an elevated level of viral genome in comparison with the parental virus, and the remaining 19 retained the same replication level as the parental virus. The replication-defective mutations were predominately located in the helicase domains and C-terminal region. All 15 replication-reduced mutants showed delayed or abolished cell-to-cell movement. Nine of 20 replication-competent mutants contained infection within single cells. Five of them distributed mutations within the N-terminal 100 amino acids. Most of replication-defective or cell-to-cell movement-abolished mutants failed to infect plants systemically. Analysis of three randomly selected replication-competent yet cell-to-cell movement-abolished mutants revealed that the mutated CI failed to form regular punctate structures at PD and/or to interact with CP. Conclusions: The helicase domain and C-terminal region of TuMV CI are essential for viral genome replication, and the N-terminal sequence modulates viral cell-to-cell movement. TuMV CI plays both interlinked and distinct roles in replication and intercellular movement. The ability of CI to target PD and interact with CP is associated with its functional role in viral cell-to-cell movement.

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