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A gene cluster encoded by panicum mosaic virus is associated with virus movement.

Turina M., Desvoyes B., Scholthof K.B.

A subgenomic RNA (sgRNA) of about 1500 nucleotides has been detected in millet plants and protoplasts infected with panicum mosaic virus (PMV). This sgRNA expressed p8, p6.6, p15, and the 26-kDa capsid protein (CP) genes during in vitro translation assays, as determined by using mutants inactivated for expression of each open reading frame. Abolishing expression of p8 and p6.6, the two 5'-proximal genes on the sgRNA, did not affect the replication of PMV in millet protoplasts, but obstructed spread in plants. As predicted for a typical cell-to-cell movement protein, p8 localized to the cell wall fraction of PMV-infected millet plants. The introduction of premature stop codons downstream of the PMV p15 start codon (p15*) abolished infectivity in planta, but did not impair replication in protoplasts. However, a delayed systemic infection in millet plants was supported by the p15aug(-) start codon mutant, which may reflect very low levels of expression from a suboptimal start codon context and/or leaky scanning to a second inframe AUG codon to express the C-terminal portion of the 15-kDa protein. PMV CP mutants had little effect on sgRNA accumulation, but were correlated with a reduction of the gRNA and the decreased expression of the 8-kDa protein in protoplasts as well as abolishment of cell-to-cell spread in plants. These results imply that the successful establishment of a PMV systemic infection in millet host plants appears to be dependent on the concerted expression of the p8, p6.6, p15, and CP genes.

Virology 266:120-128(2000) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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