Satellite RNA of Bamboo mosaic virus (satBaMV), a single-stranded mRNA type satellite encoding a protein of 20 kDa (P20), depends on the helper BaMV for replication and encapsidation. Two satBaMV isolates, BSF4 and BSL6, exhibit distinctly differential phenotypes in Nicotiana benthamiana plants when coinoculated with BaMV RNA. BSL6 significantly reduces BaMV RNA replication and suppresses the BaMV-induced symptoms, whereas BSF4 does not. By studies with chimeric satBaMVs generated by exchanging the components between BSF4 and BSL6, the genetic determinants responsible for the downregulation of BaMV replication and symptom expression were mapped at the 5′ untranslated region (UTR) of BSL6. The 5′ UTR of BSL6 alone is sufficient to diminish BaMV RNA replication when the 5′ UTR is inserted in cis into the BaMV expression vector or when coinoculation with mutants that block the synthesis of P20 protein takes place. Further, the 5′ UTR of natural satBaMV isolates contains one hypervariable (HV) region which folds into a conserved apical hairpin stem-loop (AHSL) structure (W. B. Yeh, Y. H. Hsu, H. C. Chen, and N. S. Lin, Virology 330:105-115, 2004). Interchanges of AHSL segment of HV regions between BSF4 and BSL6 led to the ability of chimeric satBaMV to interfere with BaMV replication and symptom expression. The conserved secondary structure within the HV region is a potent determinant of the downregulation of helper virus replication.
Satellite RNA of bamboo mosaic potexvirus (satBaMV), a single-stranded positive-sense RNA encoding a nonstructural protein of 20 kDa (P20), depends on bamboo mosaic potexvirus (BaMV) for replication and encapsidation. A full-length cDNA clone of satBaMV was used to examine the sequences required for the synthesis of potexvirus subgenomic RNAs (sgRNAs). Subgenomic promoter-like sequences (SGPs), 107 nucleotides (nt) upstream from the capsid protein (CP) gene of BaMV-V, were inserted upstream of the start codon of the P20 gene of satBaMV. Insertion of SGPs gave rise to the synthesis of sgRNA of satBaMV in protoplasts of Nicotiana benthamiana and leaves of Chenopodium quinoa when coinoculated with BaMV-V genomic RNA. Moreover, both the satBaMV cassette and its sgRNA were encapsidated. From analysis of the SGPs by deletion mutation, we concluded that an SGP contains one core promoterlike sequence (nt −30 through +16), two upstream enhancers (nt −59 through −31 and −91 through −60), and one downstream enhancer (nt +17 through +52), when the transcription initiation site is taken as +1. Site-directed mutagenesis and compensatory mutation to disrupt and restore potential base pairing in the core promoter-like sequence suggest that the stem-loop structure is important for the function of SGP in vivo. Likewise, the insertion of a putative SGP of the BaMV open reading frame 2 gene or a heterologous SGP of potato virus X resulted in generation of an sgRNA. The satBaMV cassette should be a useful tool to gain insight into sequences required for the synthesis of potexvirus sgRNAs.
Bamboo mosaic virus (BaMV) has a single-stranded positive-sense RNA genome with a 5′-cap structure and a 3′ poly(A) tail. Deleting the internal loop that contains the putative polyadenylation signal (AAUAAA) in the 3′ untranslated region (UTR) of BaMV genomic RNA appeared to diminish coat protein accumulation to 2% (C. P. Cheng and C. H. Tsai, J. Mol. Biol. 288:555-565, 1999). To investigate the function of the AAUAAA motif, mutations were introduced into an infectious BaMV cDNA at each residue except the first nucleotide. After transfection of Nicotiana benthamiana protoplasts with RNA transcript, the accumulations of viral coat protein and RNAs were determined. Based on the results, three different categories could be deduced for the mutants. Category 1 includes two mutants expressing levels of the viral products similar to those of the wild-type virus. Six mutations in category 2 led to decreased to similar levels of both minus-strand and genomic RNAs. Category 3 includes the remaining seven mutations that also bring about decreases in both minus- and plus-strand RNA levels, with more significant effects on genomic RNA accumulation. Mutant transcripts from each category were used to infect N. benthamiana plants, from which viral particles were isolated. The genomic RNAs of mutants in category 3 were found to have shorter poly(A) tails. Taken together, the results suggest that the AAUAAA motif in the 3′ UTR of BaMV genomic RNA is involved not only in the formation of the poly(A) tail of the plus-strand RNA, but also in minus-strand RNA synthesis.
RNAs transcribed from a full-length infectious cDNA clone of the bamboo mosaic potexvirus (strain O) genome, pBaMV-O, were infectious to Nicotiana benthamiana plants. Mutant genomes in which the poly(A) tail is absent or replaced by a 3′ tRNA-like structure from turnip yellow mosaic virus RNA failed to amplify detectably in N. benthamiana protoplasts. No amplification was detected in protoplasts inoculated with transcripts containing 4, 7, or 10 adenylate residues at the 3′ end, whereas transcript inocula with 15 adenylate residues resulted in coat protein accumulation to a level 26% of that resulting from inoculation with transcripts with 25 adenylate residues (designated as wild type). Coat protein accumulation levels of 69 and 98% relative to wild type were observed after inoculation of protoplasts with transcripts bearing poly(A) tails 18 and 22 nucleotides long, respectively. The presence of a putative 3′ pseudoknot structure including at least 13 adenylate residues of the 3′-terminal poly(A) tail was supported by enzymatic and chemical structural analysis. The functional relevance of this putative pseudoknot was tested by mutations that affected basepairing within the pseudoknot. These results support the existence of functional 3′ pseudoknot that includes part of the 3′ poly(A) tail.
Bamboo mosaic virus (BaMV) is a 6.4-kb positive-sense RNA virus belonging to the genus Potexvirus of the family Flexiviridae. The 155-kDa viral replicase, the product of ORF1, comprises an N-terminal S-adenosyl-l-methionine (AdoMet)-dependent guanylyltransferase, a nucleoside triphosphatase/RNA 5′-triphosphatase, and a C-terminal RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp). To search for cellular factors potentially involved in the regulation of replication and/or transcription of BaMV, the viral RdRp domain was targeted as bait to screen against a leaf cDNA library of Nicotiana benthamiana using a yeast two-hybrid system. A putative methyltransferase (PNbMTS1) of 617 amino acid residues without an established physiological function was identified. Cotransfection of N. benthamiana protoplasts with a BaMV infectious clone and the PNbMTS1-expressing plasmid showed a PNbMTS1 dosage-dependent inhibitory effect on the accumulation of BaMV coat protein. Deletion of the N-terminal 36 amino acids, deletion of a predicted signal peptide or transmembrane segment, or mutations in the putative AdoMet-binding motifs of PNbMTS1 abolished the inhibitory effect. In contrast, suppression of PNbMTS1 by virus-induced gene silencing in N. benthamiana increased accumulation of the viral coat protein as well as the viral genomic RNA. Collectively, PNbMTS1 may function as an innate defense protein against the accumulation of BaMV through an uncharacterized mechanism.
Geminiviruses mainly infect terminally differentiated tissues and cells in plants. They need to reprogramme host cellular machinery for DNA replication. This process is thought to be mediated by inactivation of cell-cycle repressor proteins and by induction of host DNA synthesis protein expression through actions of the geminviral replication initiator protein (Rep).
Exploiting a Nicotiana benthamiana pOri2 line, which is transformed with a transgene consisting of a direct repeat of the African cassava mosaic virus (ACMV)-replication origin (Ori) flanking a non-viral DNA region, and virus-induced RNA silencing (VIGS), the impact of host gene expression on replication of the ACMV-derived replicon was investigated. The ACMV Rep trans-replicated the viral episomal replicon in leaves of young but not older pOri2 plants. Upon VIGS-mediated down-regulation of N. benthamiana NbRBR1, the retinoblastoma-related protein gene coding for a negative cell-cycle suppressor, recovered the ability of ACMV Rep for trans DNA replication, whereas the silencing of NbPCNA coding for the sliding clamp of DNA polymerase had no effect.
These results suggest that the cellular machinery for DNA replication in differentiated tissues of older leaves cannot be reprogrammed by Rep alone but may need other uncharacterised viral and plant factors.
African cassava mosaic virus (ACMV); DNA replication; Replication initiator protein (Rep); Retinoblastoma-related protein (RBR); Proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA); Virus-induced RNA silencing (VIGS)
Satellite RNAs (satRNAs), virus parasites, are exclusively associated with plant virus infection and have attracted much interest over the last 3 decades. Upon virus infection, virus-specific small interfering RNAs (vsiRNAs) are produced by dicer-like (DCL) endoribonucleases for anti-viral defense. The composition of vsiRNAs has been studied extensively; however, studies of satRNA-derived siRNAs (satsiRNAs) or siRNA profiles after satRNA co-infection are limited. Here, we report on the small RNA profiles associated with infection with Bamboo mosaic virus (BaMV) and its two satellite RNAs (satBaMVs) in Nicotiana benthamiana and Arabidopsis thaliana.
Leaves of N. benthamiana or A. thaliana inoculated with water, BaMV alone or co-inoculated with interfering or noninterfering satBaMV were collected for RNA extraction, then large-scale Solexa sequencing. Up to about 20% of total siRNAs as BaMV-specific siRNAs were accumulated in highly susceptible N. benthamiana leaves inoculated with BaMV alone or co-inoculated with noninterfering satBaMV; however, only about 0.1% of vsiRNAs were produced in plants co-infected with interfering satBaMV. The abundant region of siRNA distribution along BaMV and satBaMV genomes differed by host but not by co-infection with satBaMV. Most of the BaMV and satBaMV siRNAs were 21 or 22 nt, of both (+) and (−) polarities; however, a higher proportion of 22-nt BaMV and satBaMV siRNAs were generated in N. benthamiana than in A. thaliana. Furthermore, the proportion of non-viral 24-nt siRNAs was greatly increased in N. benthamiana after virus infection.
The overall composition of vsiRNAs and satsiRNAs in the infected plants reflect the combined action of virus, satRNA and different DCLs in host plants. Our findings suggest that the structure and/or sequence demands of various DCLs in different hosts may result in differential susceptibility to the same virus. DCL2 producing 24-nt siRNAs under biotic stresses may play a vital role in the antiviral mechanism in N. benthamiana.
Virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) has emerged as a method for performing rapid loss-of-function experiments in plants. Despite its expanding use, the effect of host gene insert length and other properties on silencing efficiency have not been systematically tested. In this study, we probed the optimal properties of cDNA fragments of the phytoene desaturase (PDS) gene for efficient VIGS in Nicotiana benthamiana using tobacco rattle virus (TRV).
NbPDS inserts of between 192 bp and 1304 bp led to efficient silencing as determined by analysis of leaf chlorophyll a levels. The region of the NbPDS cDNA used for silencing had a small effect on silencing efficiency with 5' and 3' located inserts performing more poorly than those from the middle. Silencing efficiency was reduced by the inclusion of a 24 bp poly(A) or poly(G) homopolymeric region. We developed a method for constructing cDNA libraries for use as a source of VIGS-ready constructs. Library construction involved the synthesis of cDNA on a solid phase support, digestion with RsaI to yield short cDNA fragments lacking poly(A) tails and suppression subtractive hybridization to enrich for differentially expressed transcripts. We constructed two cDNA libraries from methyl-jasmonate treated N. benthamiana roots and obtained 2948 ESTs. Thirty percent of the cDNA inserts were 401–500 bp in length and 99.5% lacked poly(A) tails. To test the efficiency of constructs derived from the VIGS-cDNA libraries, we silenced the nicotine biosynthetic enzyme, putrescine N-methyltransferase (PMT), with ten different VIGS-NbPMT constructs ranging from 122 bp to 517 bp. Leaf nicotine levels were reduced by more than 90% in all plants infected with the NbPMT constructs.
Based on the silencing of NbPDS and NbPMT, we suggest the following design guidelines for constructs in TRV vectors: (1) Insert lengths should be in the range of ~200 bp to ~1300 bp, (2) they should be positioned in the middle of the cDNA and (3) homopolymeric regions (i.e. poly(A/T) tails) should not be included. Our VIGS-cDNA library method, which incorporates these guidelines to produce sequenced, VIGS-ready cDNAs, will be useful for both fast-forward and reverse genetics experiments in TRV vectors.
Plant viruses can be employed as versatile vectors for the production of vaccines by expressing immunogenic epitopes on the surface of chimeric viral particles. Although several viruses, including tobacco mosaic virus, potato virus X and cowpea mosaic virus, have been developed as vectors, we aimed to develop a new viral vaccine delivery system, a bamboo mosaic virus (BaMV), that would carry larger transgene loads, and generate better immunity in the target animals with fewer adverse environmental effects.
We engineered the BaMV as a vaccine vector expressing the antigenic epitope(s) of the capsid protein VP1 of foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV). The recombinant BaMV plasmid (pBVP1) was constructed by replacing DNA encoding the 35 N-terminal amino acid residues of the BaMV coat protein with that encoding 37 amino acid residues (T128-N164) of FMDV VP1.
The pBVP1 was able to infect host plants and to generate a chimeric virion BVP1 expressing VP1 epitopes in its coat protein. Inoculation of swine with BVP1 virions resulted in the production of anti-FMDV neutralizing antibodies. Real-time PCR analysis of peripheral blood mononuclear cells from the BVP1-immunized swine revealed that they produced VP1-specific IFN-γ. Furthermore, all BVP1-immunized swine were protected against FMDV challenge.
Chimeric BaMV virions that express partial sequence of FMDV VP1 can effectively induce not only humoral and cell-mediated immune responses but also full protection against FMDV in target animals. This BaMV-based vector technology may be applied to other vaccines that require correct expression of antigens on chimeric viral particles.
Host factors play crucial roles in the replication of plus-strand RNA viruses. In this report, a heat shock protein 90 homologue of Nicotiana benthamiana, NbHsp90, was identified in association with partially purified replicase complexes from BaMV-infected tissue, and shown to specifically interact with the 3′ untranslated region (3′ UTR) of BaMV genomic RNA, but not with the 3′ UTR of BaMV-associated satellite RNA (satBaMV RNA) or that of genomic RNA of other viruses, such as Potato virus X (PVX) or Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV). Mutational analyses revealed that the interaction occurs between the middle domain of NbHsp90 and domain E of the BaMV 3′ UTR. The knockdown or inhibition of NbHsp90 suppressed BaMV infectivity, but not that of satBaMV RNA, PVX, or CMV in N. benthamiana. Time-course analysis further revealed that the inhibitory effect of 17-AAG is significant only during the immediate early stages of BaMV replication. Moreover, yeast two-hybrid and GST pull-down assays demonstrated the existence of an interaction between NbHsp90 and the BaMV RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. These results reveal a novel role for NbHsp90 in the selective enhancement of BaMV replication, most likely through direct interaction with the 3′ UTR of BaMV RNA during the initiation of BaMV RNA replication.
Heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) is a highly conserved molecular chaperone in prokaryotes and eukaryotes, and regulates diverse cellular processes through ensuring the correct folding of numerous client proteins. However, there are no reports of direct interactions between Hsp90 with viral RNA. Here, we report that a new member of the Hsp90 proteins of Nicotiana benthamiana, NbHsp90, specifically interacts with the 3′ UTR of Bamboo mosaic virus (BaMV) genomic RNA, but not with the 3′ UTR of BaMV-associated satellite RNA or that of other viruses. We further demonstrate that NbHsp90 specifically involves in the immediately early stage of BaMV RNA replication. NbHsp90 directly interacts with the BaMV 3′ UTR through the domain E, the key structural differences that distinguishes the BaMV 3′ UTR from the satBaMV 3′ UTR, which might contribute to NbHsp90's differential requirement for BaMV and satBaMV replication. Our work revealed a new role of Hsp90 in the interaction with RNA molecules, and demonstrated the differential requirement of Hsp90 in the replication of BaMV and satBaMV RNAs, which provide additional leverage for understanding the complex interactions between host, virus and its associated satellite RNA.
The influenza A virus is of global concern for the poultry industry, especially the H5 and H7 subtypes as they have the potential to become highly pathogenic for poultry. In this study, the hemagglutinin (HA) of a low pathogenic avian influenza virus of the H7N7 subtype isolated from a Swedish mallard Anas platyrhynchos was sequenced, characterized and transiently expressed in Nicotiana benthamiana. Recently, plant expression systems have gained interest as an alternative for the production of vaccine antigens. To examine the possibility of expressing the HA protein in N. benthamiana, a cDNA fragment encoding the HA gene was synthesized de novo, modified with a Kozak sequence, a PR1a signal peptide, a C-terminal hexahistidine (6×His) tag, and an endoplasmic retention signal (SEKDEL). The construct was cloned into a Cowpea mosaic virus (CPMV)-based vector (pEAQ-HT) and the resulting pEAQ-HT-HA plasmid, along with a vector (pJL3:p19) containing the viral gene-silencing suppressor p19 from Tomato bushy stunt virus, was agro-infiltrated into N. benthamiana. The highest gene expression of recombinant plant-produced, uncleaved HA (rHA0), as measured by quantitative real-time PCR was detected at 6 days post infiltration (dpi). Guided by the gene expression profile, rHA0 protein was extracted at 6 dpi and subsequently purified utilizing the 6×His tag and immobilized metal ion adsorption chromatography. The yield was 0.2 g purified protein per kg fresh weight of leaves. Further molecular characterizations showed that the purified rHA0 protein was N-glycosylated and its identity confirmed by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. In addition, the purified rHA0 exhibited hemagglutination and hemagglutination inhibition activity indicating that the rHA0 shares structural and functional properties with native HA protein of H7 influenza virus. Our results indicate that rHA0 maintained its native antigenicity and specificity, providing a good source of vaccine antigen to induce immune response in poultry species.
cDNA-Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism (cDNA-AFLP) is a commonly used technique for genome-wide expression analysis that does not require prior sequence knowledge. Typically, quantitative expression data and sequence information are obtained for a large number of differentially expressed gene tags. However, most of the gene tags do not correspond to full-length (FL) coding sequences, which is a prerequisite for subsequent functional analysis.
A medium-throughput screening strategy, based on integration of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and colony hybridization, was developed that allows in parallel screening of a cDNA library for FL clones corresponding to incomplete cDNAs. The method was applied to screen for the FL open reading frames of a selection of 163 cDNA-AFLP tags from three different medicinal plants, leading to the identification of 109 (67%) FL clones. Furthermore, the protocol allows for the use of multiple probes in a single hybridization event, thus significantly increasing the throughput when screening for rare transcripts.
The presented strategy offers an efficient method for the conversion of incomplete expressed sequence tags (ESTs), such as cDNA-AFLP tags, to FL-coding sequences.
Plant genomes have been transformed with full-length cDNA copies of viral genomes, giving rise to what has been called 'amplicon' systems, trying to combine the genetic stability of transgenic plants with the elevated replication rate of plant viruses. However, amplicons' performance has been very variable regardless of the virus on which they are based. This has boosted further interest in understanding the underlying mechanisms that cause this behavior differences, and in developing strategies to control amplicon expression.
Nicotiana benthamiana plants were transformed with an amplicon consisting of a full-length cDNA of the potyvirus Plum pox virus (PPV) genome modified to include a GFP reporter gene. Amplicon expression exhibited a great variability among different transgenic lines and even among different plants of the same line. Plants of the line 10.6 initially developed without signs of amplicon expression, but at different times some of them started to display sporadic infection foci in leaves approaching maturity. The infection progressed systemically, but at later times the infected plants recovered and returned to an amplicon-inactive state. The failure to detect virus-specific siRNAs in 10.6 plants before amplicon induction and after recovery suggested that a strong amplicon-specific RNA silencing is not established in these plants. However, the coexpression of extra viral silencing suppressors caused some amplicon activation, suggesting that a low level of RNA silencing could be contributing to maintain amplicon repression in the 10.6 plants. The resistance mechanisms that prevent amplicon-derived virus infection were also active against exogenous PPV introduced by mechanical inoculation or grafting, but did not affect other viruses. Amplicon-derived PPV was able to spread into wild type scions grafted in 10.6 rootstocks that did not display signs of amplicon expression, suggesting that resistance has little effect on virus movement.
Our results suggest that amplicon-derived virus infection is limited in this particular transgenic line by a combination of factors, including the presumed low efficiency of the conversion from the transgene transcript to replicable viral RNA, and also by the activation of RNA silencing and other defensive responses of the plant, which are not completely neutralized by viral suppressors.
Different mutants of an infectious full-length clone (p35PPV-NAT) of Plum pox virus (PPV) were constructed: three mutants with mutations of the assembly motifs RQ and DF in the coat protein gene (CP) and two CP chimeras with exchanges in the CP core region of Zucchini yellow mosaic virus and Potato virus Y. The assembly mutants were restricted to single infected cells, whereas the PPV chimeras were able to produce systemic infections in Nicotiana benthamiana plants. After passages in different transgenic N. benthamiana plants expressing the PPV CP gene with a complete (plant line 4.30.45.) or partially deleted 3′-nontranslated region (3′-NTR) (plant line 17.27.4.), characterization of the viral progeny of all mutants revealed restoration of wild-type virus by recombination with the transgenic CP RNA only in the presence of the complete 3′-NTR (4.30.45.). Reconstitution of wild-type virus was also observed following cobombardment of different assembly-defective p35PPV-NAT together with a movement-defective plant expression vector of Potato virus X expressing the intact PPV-NAT CP gene transiently in nontransgenic N. benthamiana plants. Finally, a chimeric recombinant virus was detected after cobombardment of defective p35PPV-NAT with a plant expression vector-derived CP gene from the sour cherry isolate of PPV (PPV-SoC). This chimeric virus has been established by a double recombination event between the CP-defective PPV mutant and the intact PPV-SoC CP gene. These results demonstrate that viral sequences can be tested for recombination events without the necessity for producing transgenic plants.
A high-throughput in planta overexpression screen of a Nicotiana benthamiana cDNA library identified a mitogen activated protein kinase kinase (MAPKK), NbMKK1, as a potent inducer of hypersensitive response (HR)-like cell death. NbMKK1-mediated cell death was attenuated in plants whereby expression of NbSIPK, an ortholog of tobacco SIPK and Arabidopsis AtMPK6, was knocked down by virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS), suggesting that NbMKK1 functions upstream of NbSIPK. In accordance with this result, NbMKK1 phosphorylated NbSIPK in vitro, and furthermore NbMKK1 and NbSIPK physically interacted in yeast two-hybrid assay. VIGS of NbMKK1 in N. benthamiana resulted in a delay of Phytophthora infestans INF1 elicitin-mediated HR as well as in the reduction of resistance against a non-host pathogen Pseudomonas cichorii. Our data of NbMKK1, together with that of LeMKK4,1 demonstrate the presence of a novel defense signaling pathway involving NbMKK1/LeMKK4 and SIPK.
MAPK; defense; cell death; in planta screen
"Candidatus Phytoplasma aurantifolia", is the causative agent of witches' broom disease in Mexican lime trees (Citrus aurantifolia L.), and is responsible for major losses of Mexican lime trees in Southern Iran and Oman. The pathogen is strictly biotrophic, and thus is completely dependent on living host cells for its survival. The molecular basis of compatibility and disease development in this system is poorly understood. Therefore, we have applied a cDNA- amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) approach to analyze gene expression in Mexican lime trees infected by "Ca. Phytoplasma aurantifolia".
We carried out cDNA-AFLP analysis on grafted infected Mexican lime trees of the susceptible cultivar at the representative symptoms stage. Selective amplifications with 43 primer combinations allowed the visualisation of 55 transcript-derived fragments that were expressed differentially between infected and non-infected leaves. We sequenced 51 fragments, 36 of which were identified as lime tree transcripts after homology searching. Of the 36 genes, 70.5% were down-regulated during infection and could be classified into various functional groups. We showed that Mexican lime tree genes that were homologous to known resistance genes tended to be repressed in response to infection. These included the genes for modifier of snc1 and autophagy protein 5. Furthermore, down-regulation of genes involved in metabolism, transcription, transport and cytoskeleton was observed, which included the genes for formin, importin β 3, transducin, L-asparaginase, glycerophosphoryl diester phosphodiesterase, and RNA polymerase β. In contrast, genes that encoded a proline-rich protein, ubiquitin-protein ligase, phosphatidyl glycerol specific phospholipase C-like, and serine/threonine-protein kinase were up-regulated during the infection.
The present study identifies a number of candidate genes that might be involved in the interaction of Mexican lime trees with "Candidatus Phytoplasma aurantifolia". These results should help to elucidate the molecular basis of the infection process and to identify genes that could be targeted to increase plant resistance and inhibit the growth and reproduction of the pathogen.
The satellite RNA of bamboo mosaic virus (satBaMV) has a single open reading frame encoding a non-structural protein, P20, which facilitates long-distance movement of satBaMV in BaMV and satBaMV co-infected plants. Immunohistochemistry and immunoelectron microscopy revealed that the P20 protein accumulated in the cytoplasm and nuclei in co-infected cells. P20 and the helper virus coat protein (CP) were highly similar in their subcellular localization, except that aggregates of BaMV virions were not labelled with anti-P20 serum. The BaMV CP protein was fairly abundant in mesophyll cells, whilst P20 was more frequently detected in mesophyll cells and vascular tissues. The expression kinetics of the P20 protein was similar to but slightly earlier than that of CP in co-infected Bambusa oldhamii protoplasts and Nicotiana benthamiana leaves. However, satBaMV-encoded protein levels declined rapidly in the late phase of co-infection. During co-infection, in addition to the intact P20, a low-molecular-mass polypeptide of 16 kDa was identified as a P20 C-terminally truncated product; the possible method of generation of the truncated protein is discussed.
RNA silencing is a natural defense mechanism against genetic stress factors, including viruses. A mutant hordeivirus (Barley stripe mosaic virus [BSMV]) lacking the γb gene was confined to inoculated leaves in Nicotiana benthamiana, but systemic infection was observed in transgenic N. benthamiana expressing the potyviral silencing suppressor protein HCpro, suggesting that the γb protein may be a long-distance movement factor and have antisilencing activity. This was shown for γb proteins of both BSMV and Poa semilatent virus (PSLV), a related hordeivirus. Besides the functions in RNA silencing suppression, γb and HCpro had analogous effects on symptoms induced by the hordeiviruses. Severe BSMV-induced symptoms were correlated with high HCpro concentrations in the HCpro-transgenic plants, and substitution of the γb cistron of BSMV with that of PSLV led to greatly increased symptom severity and an altered pattern of viral gene expression. The efficient systemic infection with the chimera was followed by the development of dark green islands (localized recovery from infection) in leaves and exemption of new developing leaves from infection. Recovery and the accumulation of short RNAs diagnostic of RNA silencing in the recovered tissues in wild-type N. benthamiana were suppressed in HCpro-transgenic plants. These results provide evidence that potyviral HCpro and hordeivirus γb proteins contribute to systemic viral infection, symptom severity, and RNA silencing suppression. HCpro's ability to suppress the recovery of plants from viral infection emphasizes recovery as a manifestation of RNA silencing.
Viruses are both inducers and targets of posttranscriptional gene silencing (PTGS), a natural defense mechanism in plants. Here we report molecular evidence of the ability of single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) viruses to induce PTGS in infected plants irrespective of the severity of or recovery from the symptoms. Our results reveal that five distinct species of cassava-infecting geminiviruses were capable of triggering PTGS by producing two classes of virus-specific short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) of 21 to 26 nucleotides in two plant hosts, tobacco (Nicotiana benthamiana) and cassava (Manihot esculenta, Crantz). However, the efficacy of virus-induced PTGS varied depending on the intrinsic features of the virus and its interaction with the plant host. We found that symptom recovery over time in plants infected with the isolates of African cassava mosaic virus (ACMV-[CM]) or Sri Lankan cassava mosaic virus was associated with a much higher level of virus-derived siRNA accumulation compared to plants infected with viruses that do not show symptom recovery. Furthermore, we determined that the C terminus of AC1 that overlaps with the N terminus of AC2 early viral genes involved in virus replication were the primary targets for ACMV-[CM]-induced PTGS, whereas the C terminus of BC1 was targeted for the East African cassava mosaic Cameroon virus. In addition, our results reveal the possibility for double-stranded RNA formation during transcription in ssDNA viruses, which explains in part how these viruses can trigger PTGS in plants.
After 10-year-use of AFLP (Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism) technology for DNA fingerprinting and mRNA profiling, large repertories of genome- and transcriptome-derived sequences are available in public databases for model, crop and tree species. AFLP marker systems have been and are being extensively exploited for genome scanning and gene mapping, as well as cDNA-AFLP for transcriptome profiling and differentially expressed gene cloning. The evaluation, annotation and classification of genomic markers and expressed transcripts would be of great utility for both functional genomics and systems biology research in plants. This may be achieved by means of the Gene Ontology (GO), consisting in three structured vocabularies (i.e. ontologies) describing genes, transcripts and proteins of any organism in terms of their associated cellular component, biological process and molecular function in a species-independent manner. In this paper, the functional annotation of about 8,000 AFLP-derived ESTs retrieved in the NCBI databases was carried out by using GO terminology.
Descriptive statistics on the type, size and nature of gene sequences obtained by means of AFLP technology were calculated. The gene products associated with mRNA transcripts were then classified according to the three main GO vocabularies. A comparison of the functional content of cDNA-AFLP records was also performed by splitting the sequence dataset into monocots and dicots and by comparing them to all annotated ESTs of Arabidopsis and rice, respectively. On the whole, the statistical parameters adopted for the in silico AFLP-derived transcriptome-anchored sequence analysis proved to be critical for obtaining reliable GO results. Such an exhaustive annotation may offer a suitable platform for functional genomics, particularly useful in non-model species.
Reliable GO annotations of AFLP-derived sequences can be gathered through the optimization of the experimental steps and the statistical parameters adopted. The Blast2GO software was shown to represent a comprehensive bioinformatics solution for an annotation-based functional analysis. According to the whole set of GO annotations, the AFLP technology generates thorough information for angiosperm gene products and shares common features across angiosperm species and families. The utility of this technology for structural and functional genomics in plants can be implemented by serial annotation analyses of genome-anchored fragments and organ/tissue-specific repertories of transcriptome-derived fragments.
Posttranscriptional silencing of a green fluorescent protein (GFP) transgene in Nicotiana benthamiana plants was suppressed when these plants were infected with Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV), a plant-infecting member of the Bunyaviridae. Infection with TSWV resulted in complete reactivation of GFP expression, similar to the case for Potato virus Y, but distinct from that for Cucumber mosaic virus, two viruses known to carry genes encoding silencing suppressor proteins. Agrobacterium-based leaf injections with individual TSWV genes identified the NSS gene to be responsible for the RNA silencing-suppressing activity displayed by this virus. The absence of short interfering RNAs in NSS-expressing leaf sectors suggests that the tospoviral NSS protein interferes with the intrinsic RNA silencing present in plants. Suppression of RNA silencing was also observed when the NS3 protein of the Rice hoja blanca tenuivirus, a nonenveloped negative-strand virus, was expressed. These results indicate that plant-infecting negative-strand RNA viruses carry a gene for a suppressor of RNA silencing.
Fast-growing Eucalyptus grandis trees are one of the most efficient producers of wood in South Africa. The most serious problem affecting the quality and yield of solid wood products is the occurrence of end splitting in logs. Selection of E. grandis planting stock that exhibit preferred wood qualities is thus a priority of the South African forestry industry. We used microarray-based DNA-amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) analysis in combination with expression profiling to develop fingerprints and profile gene expression of wood-forming tissue of seven different E. grandis trees.
A 1578-probe cDNA microarray was constructed by arraying 768 cDNA-AFLP clones and 810 cDNA library clones from seven individual E. grandis trees onto silanised slides. The results revealed that 32% of the spotted fragments showed distinct expression patterns (with a fold change of at least 1.4 or -1.4 and a p value of 0.01) could be grouped into clusters representing co-expressed genes. Evaluation of the binary distribution of cDNA-AFLP fragments on the array showed that the individual genotypes could be discriminated.
A simple, yet general method was developed for genotyping and expression profiling of wood-forming tissue of E. grandis trees differing in their splitting characteristics and in their lignin contents. Evaluation of gene expression profiles and the binary distribution of cDNA-AFLP fragments on the chip suggest that the prototype chip developed could be useful for transcript profiling and for the identification of Eucalyptus trees with preferred wood quality traits in commercial breeding programmes.
Geminiviruses are small DNA viruses that replicate in nuclei of infected plant cells after accumulation of host replication machinery. Tomato golden mosaic virus (TGMV) and Tomato yellow leaf curl Sardinia virus (TYLCSV) encode a protein, RepAC1 (or Rep), that is essential for viral replication. Rep/RepAC1 is an oligomeric protein that binds to double-stranded DNA, catalyzes cleavage and ligation of single-stranded DNA, and is sufficient for host induction. It also interacts with several host proteins, including the cell cycle regulator, retinoblastoma, and essential components of the cell DNA replication machinery, like proliferating nuclear cell antigen (PCNA) and RFC-1. To identify other cellular proteins that interact with Rep/RepAC1 protein, a Nicotiana benthamiana cDNA library was screened with a yeast two-hybrid assay. The host cell sumoylation enzyme, NbSCE1 (N. benthamiana SUMO-conjugating enzyme, homolog to Saccharomyces cerevisiae UBC9), was found to interact specifically with RepAC1. Mapping studies localized the interaction to the N-terminal half of RepAC1. Effects on geminivirus replication were observed in transgenic plants with altered levels of SUMO, the substrate for UBC9.
Open reading frame 1 (ORF1) of potexviruses encodes a viral replicase comprising three functional domains: a capping enzyme at the N terminus, a putative helicase in the middle, and a polymerase at the C terminus. To verify the enzymatic activities associated with the putative helicase domain, the corresponding cDNA fragment from bamboo mosaic virus (BaMV) was cloned into vector pET32 and the protein was expressed in Escherichia coli and purified by metal affinity chromatography. An activity assay confirmed that the putative helicase domain has nucleoside triphosphatase activity. We found that it also possesses an RNA 5′-triphosphatase activity that specifically removes the γ phosphate from the 5′ end of RNA. Both enzymatic activities were abolished by the mutation of the nucleoside triphosphate-binding motif (GKS), suggesting that they have a common catalytic site. A typical m7GpppG cap structure was formed at the 5′ end of the RNA substrate when the substrate was treated sequentially with the putative helicase domain and the N-terminal capping enzyme, indicating that the putative helicase domain is truly involved in the process of cap formation by exhibiting its RNA 5′-triphosphatase activity.
Flock house virus (FHV), a bipartite RNA virus of insects and a member of the Nodaviridae family, shares viral replication features with the tripartite brome mosaic virus (BMV), an RNA virus that infects plants and is a member of the Bromoviridae family. In BMV and FHV, genome packaging is coupled to replication, a widely conserved mechanism among positive-strand RNA viruses of diverse origin. To unravel the events that modulate the mechanism of replication-coupled packaging, in this study, we have extended the transfer DNA (T-DNA)-based agroinfiltration system to express functional genome components of FHV in plant cells (Nicotiana benthamiana). Replication, intracellular membrane localization, and packaging characteristics in agroinfiltrated plant cells revealed that T-DNA plasmids of FHV were biologically active and faithfully mimicked complete replication and packaging behavior similar to that observed for insect cells. Synchronized coexpression of wild-type BMV and FHV genome components in plant cells resulted in the assembly of virions packaging the respective viral progeny RNA. To further elucidate the link between replication and packaging, coat protein (CP) open reading frames were precisely exchanged between BMV RNA 3 (B3) and FHV RNA 2 (F2), creating chimeric RNAs expressing heterologous CP genes (B3/FCP and F2/BCP). Coinfiltration of each chimera with its corresponding genome counterpart to provide viral replicase (B1+B2+B3/FCP and F1+F2/BCP) resulted in the expected progeny profiles, but virions exhibited a nonspecific packaging phenotype. Complementation with homologous replicase (with respect to CP) failed to enhance packaging specificity. Taken together, we propose that the transcription of CP mRNA from homologous replication and its translation must be synchronized to confer packaging specificity.