Important progress in understanding replication, interactions with host plants, and evolution of closteroviruses enabled engineering of several vectors for gene expression and virus-induced gene silencing. Due to the broad host range of closteroviruses, these vectors expanded vector applicability to include important woody plants such as citrus and grapevine. Furthermore, large closterovirus genomes offer genetic capacity and stability unrivaled by other plant viral vectors. These features provided immense opportunities for using closterovirus vectors for the functional genomics studies and pathogen control in economically valuable crops. This review briefly summarizes advances in closterovirus research during the last decade, explores the relationships between virus biology and vector design, and outlines the most promising directions for future application of closterovirus vectors.
viral vector; closteroviruses; RNAi; Beet yellows virus; Citrus tristeza virus; Grapevine leafroll-associated virus-2
The improvement of the agricultural and wine-making qualities of the grapevine (Vitis vinifera) is hampered by adherence to traditional varieties, the recalcitrance of this plant to genetic modifications, and public resistance to genetically modified organism (GMO) technologies. To address these challenges, we developed an RNA virus-based vector for the introduction of desired traits into grapevine without heritable modifications to the genome. This vector expresses recombinant proteins in the phloem tissue that is involved in sugar transport throughout the plant, from leaves to roots to berries. Furthermore, the vector provides a powerful RNA interference (RNAi) capability of regulating the expression of endogenous genes via virus-induced gene-silencing (VIGS) technology. Additional advantages of this vector include superb genetic capacity and stability, as well as the swiftness of technology implementation. The most significant applications of the viral vector include functional genomics of the grapevine and disease control via RNAi-enabled vaccination against pathogens or invertebrate pests.
Plant myosins XI were implicated in cell growth, F-actin organization, and organelle transport, with myosin XI-K being a critical contributor to each of these processes. However, subcellular localization of myosins and the identity of their principal cargoes remain poorly understood. Here, we generated a functionally competent, fluorescent protein-tagged, myosin XI-K, and investigated its spatial distribution within Arabidopsis cells. This myosin was found to associate primarily not with larger organelles (e.g., Golgi) as was broadly assumed, but with endomembrane vesicles trafficking along F-actin. Subcellular localization and fractionation experiments indicated that the nature of myosin-associated vesicles is organ- and cell type-specific. In leaves, a large proportion of these vesicles aligned and co-fractionated with a motile endoplasmic reticulum (ER) subdomain. In roots, non-ER vesicles were a dominant myosin cargo. Myosin XI-K showed a striking polar localization at the tips of growing, but not mature, root hairs. These results strongly suggest that a major mechanism whereby myosins contribute to plant cell physiology is vesicle transport, and that this activity can be regulated depending on the growth phase of a cell.
Arabidopsis; myosin XI; filamentous actin; endomembrane vesicles; transport vesicles
The membrane-spanning protein TGBp3 is one of the three movement proteins (MPs) of Poa semilatent virus. TGBp3 is thought to direct other viral MPs and genomic RNA to peripheral bodies located in close proximity to plasmodesmata. We used the ectopic expression of green fluorescent protein-fused TGBp3 in epidermal cells of Nicotiana benthamiana leaves to study the TGBp3 intracellular trafficking pathway. Treatment with inhibitors was used to reveal that the targeting of TGBp3 to plasmodesmata does not require a functional cytoskeleton or secretory system. In addition, the suppression of endoplasmic reticulum-derived vesicle formation by a dominant negative mutant of small GTPase Sar1 had no detectable effect on TGBp3 trafficking to peripheral bodies. Collectively, these results suggested the involvement of an unconventional pathway in the intracellular transport of TGBp3. The determinants of targeting to plasmodesmata were localized to the C-terminal region of TGBp3, including the conserved hydrophilic and terminal membrane-spanning domains.
Virus-infected plants accumulate abundant, 21–24 nucleotide viral siRNAs which are generated by the evolutionary conserved RNA interference (RNAi) machinery that regulates gene expression and defends against invasive nucleic acids. Here we show that, similar to RNA viruses, the entire genome sequences of DNA viruses are densely covered with siRNAs in both sense and antisense orientations. This implies pervasive transcription of both coding and non-coding viral DNA in the nucleus, which generates double-stranded RNA precursors of viral siRNAs. Consistent with our finding and hypothesis, we demonstrate that the complete genomes of DNA viruses from Caulimoviridae and Geminiviridae families can be reconstructed by deep sequencing and de novo assembly of viral siRNAs using bioinformatics tools. Furthermore, we prove that this ‘siRNA omics’ approach can be used for reliable identification of the consensus master genome and its microvariants in viral quasispecies. Finally, we utilized this approach to reconstruct an emerging DNA virus and two viroids associated with economically-important red blotch disease of grapevine, and to rapidly generate a biologically-active clone representing the wild type master genome of Oilseed rape mosaic virus. Our findings show that deep siRNA sequencing allows for de novo reconstruction of any DNA or RNA virus genome and its microvariants, making it suitable for universal characterization of evolving viral quasispecies as well as for studying the mechanisms of siRNA biogenesis and RNAi-based antiviral defense.
Grapevine leafroll disease (GLD) is one of the most important grapevine viral diseases affecting grapevines worldwide. The impact on vine health, crop yield, and quality is difficult to assess due to a high number of variables, but significant economic losses are consistently reported over the lifespan of a vineyard if intervention strategies are not implemented. Several viruses from the family Closteroviridae are associated with GLD. However, Grapevine leafroll-associated virus 3 (GLRaV-3), the type species for the genus Ampelovirus, is regarded as the most important causative agent. Here we provide a general overview on various aspects of GLRaV-3, with an emphasis on the latest advances in the characterization of the genome. The full genome of several isolates have recently been sequenced and annotated, revealing the existence of several genetic variants. The classification of these variants, based on their genome sequence, will be discussed and a guideline is presented to facilitate future comparative studies. The characterization of sgRNAs produced during the infection cycle of GLRaV-3 has given some insight into the replication strategy and the putative functionality of the ORFs. The latest nucleotide sequence based molecular diagnostic techniques were shown to be more sensitive than conventional serological assays and although ELISA is not as sensitive it remains valuable for high-throughput screening and complementary to molecular diagnostics. The application of next-generation sequencing is proving to be a valuable tool to study the complexity of viral infection as well as plant pathogen interaction. Next-generation sequencing data can provide information regarding disease complexes, variants of viral species, and abundance of particular viruses. This information can be used to develop more accurate diagnostic assays. Reliable virus screening in support of robust grapevine certification programs remains the cornerstone of GLD management.
grapevine leafroll disease; GLRaV-3; ampelovirus; Closteroviridae; genetic variants
Many viruses infecting animals and plants share common cores of homologous genes involved in the key processes of viral replication. In contrast, genes that mediate virus – host interactions including in many cases capsid protein genes are markedly different. There are three distinct scenarios for the origin of related viruses of plants and animals: i) evolution from a common ancestral virus predating the divergence of plants and animals; ii) horizontal transfer of viruses, for example, through insect vectors; iii) parallel origin from related genetic elements. We present evidence that each of these scenarios contributed, to a varying extent, to the evolution of different groups of viruses.
In a recent BMC Evolutionary Biology article, Huiquan Liu and colleagues report two new genomes of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) viruses from fungi and use these as a springboard to perform an extensive phylogenomic analysis of dsRNA viruses. The results support the old scenario of polyphyletic origin of dsRNA viruses from different groups of positive-strand RNA viruses and additionally reveal extensive horizontal gene transfer between diverse viruses consistent with the network-like rather than tree-like mode of viral evolution. Together with the unexpected discoveries of the first putative archaeal RNA virus and a RNA-DNA virus hybrid, this work shows that RNA viral genomics has major surprises to deliver.
See research article: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2148/12/91
Metagenomic analysis of viruses suggests novel patterns of evolution, changes the existing ideas of the composition of the virus world and reveals novel groups of viruses and virus-like agents. The gene composition of the marine DNA virome is dramatically different from that of known bacteriophages. The virome is dominated by rare genes, many of which might be contained within virus-like entities such as gene transfer agents. Analysis of marine metagenomes thought to consist mostly of bacterial genes revealed a variety of sequences homologous to conserved genes of eukaryotic nucleocytoplasmic large DNA viruses, resulting in the discovery of diverse members of previously undersampled groups and suggesting the existence of new classes of virus-like agents. Unexpectedly, metagenomics of marine RNA viruses showed that representatives of only one superfamily of eukaryotic viruses, the picorna-like viruses, dominate the RNA virome.
Cell-to-cell movement of plant viruses occurs via plasmodesmata (PD), organelles that evolved to facilitate intercellular communications. Viral movement proteins (MP) modify PD to allow passage of the virus particles or nucleoproteins. This passage occurs via several distinct mechanisms one of which is MP-dependent formation of the tubules that traverse PD and provide a conduit for virion translocation. The MP of tubule-forming viruses including Grapevine fanleaf virus (GFLV) recruit the plant PD receptors called Plasmodesmata Located Proteins (PDLP) to mediate tubule assembly and virus movement. Here we show that PDLP1 is transported to PD through a specific route within the secretory pathway in a myosin-dependent manner. This transport relies primarily on the class XI myosins XI-K and XI-2. Inactivation of these myosins using dominant negative inhibition results in mislocalization of PDLP and MP and suppression of GFLV movement. We also found that the proper targeting of specific markers of the Golgi apparatus, the plasma membrane, PD, lipid raft subdomains within the plasma membrane, and the tonoplast was not affected by myosin XI-K inhibition. However, the normal tonoplast dynamics required myosin XI-K activity. These results reveal a new pathway of the myosin-dependent protein trafficking to PD that is hijacked by GFLV to promote tubule-guided transport of this virus between plant cells.
To establish infection, plant viruses spread cell-to-cell via narrow channels in the cell wall, the plasmodesmata (PD). Movement proteins (MP) are virus-encoded proteins essential for virus intercellular transport through PD. Plasmodesmata located plant proteins (PDLPs), are specifically recognised by the MPs of tubule-forming viruses. Here we show that PDLP targeting to PD depends on the molecular motors myosin XI-K and XI-2. Consistently, and in support of a function of PDLP as PD receptor for MP, overexpression of dominant negative myosin mutants inhibits tubule formation by Grapevine fanleaf virus (GFLV) MP and dramatically reduces virus movement.
Organelle movement in plants is dependent on actin filaments with most of the organelles being transported along the actin cables by class XI myosins. Although chloroplast movement is also actin filament-dependent, a potential role of myosin motors in this process is poorly understood. Interestingly, chloroplasts can move in any direction and change the direction within short time periods, suggesting that chloroplasts use the newly formed actin filaments rather than preexisting actin cables. Furthermore, the data on myosin gene knockouts and knockdowns in Arabidopsis and tobacco do not support myosins' XI role in chloroplast movement. Our recent studies revealed that chloroplast movement and positioning are mediated by the short actin filaments localized at chloroplast periphery (cp-actin filaments) rather than cytoplasmic actin cables. The accumulation of cp-actin filaments depends on kinesin-like proteins, KAC1 and KAC2, as well as on a chloroplast outer membrane protein CHUP1. We propose that plants evolved a myosin XI-independent mechanism of the actin-based chloroplast movement that is distinct from the mechanism used by other organelles.
actin; Arabidopsis; blue light; kinesin; myosin; organelle movement; phototropin
Previous studies have revealed a wide-spread occurence of the partial and complete genomes of the reverse-transcribing pararetroviruses in the nuclear genomes of herbaceous plants. Although the absence of the virus-encoded integrases attests to the random and incidental incorporation of the viral sequences, their presence could have functional implications for the virus-host interactions.
Analyses of two nuclear genomes of grapevine revealed multiple events of horizontal gene transfer from pararetroviruses. The ~200–800 bp inserts that corresponded to partial ORFs encoding reverse transcriptase apparently derived from unknown or extinct caulimoviruses and tungroviruses, were found in 11 grapevine chromosomes. In contrast to the previous reports, no reliable cases of the inserts derived from the positive-strand RNA viruses were found. Because grapevine is known to be infected by the diverse positive-strand RNA viruses, but not pararetroviruses, we hypothesize that pararetroviral inserts have conferred host resistance to these viruses. Furthermore, we propose that such resistance involves RNA interference-related mechanisms acting via small RNA-mediated methylation of pararetroviral DNAs and/or via degradation of the viral mRNAs.
The pararetroviral sequences in plant genomes may be maintained due to the benefits of virus resistance to this class of viruses conferred by their presence. Such resistance could be particularly significant for the woody plants that must withstand years- to centuries-long virus assault. Experimental research into the RNA interference pathways involving the integrated pararetroviral inserts is required to test this hypothesis.
This article was reviewed by Arcady R. Mushegian, I. King Jordan, and Eugene V. Koonin.
Bacterial and mammalian AlkB proteins are iron(II)- and 2-oxoglutarate-dependent dioxygenases that reverse methylation damage, such as 1-methyladenine and 3-methylcytosine, in RNA and DNA. An AlkB-domain is encoded by the genome of numerous single-stranded, plant-infecting RNA viruses, the majority of which belong to the Flexiviridae family. Our phylogenetic analysis of AlkB sequences suggests that a single plant virus might have acquired AlkB relatively recently, followed by horizontal dissemination among other viruses via recombination. Here, we describe the first functional characterization of AlkB proteins from three plant viruses. The viral AlkB proteins efficiently reactivated methylated bacteriophage genomes when expressed in Escherichia coli, and also displayed robust, iron(II)- and 2-oxoglutarate-dependent demethylase activity in vitro. Viral AlkB proteins preferred RNA over DNA substrates, and thus represent the first AlkBs with such substrate specificity. Our results suggest a role for viral AlkBs in maintaining the integrity of the viral RNA genome through repair of deleterious methylation damage, and support the notion that AlkB-mediated RNA repair is biologically relevant.
The Hsp70 homolog (Hsp70h) of Beet yellows virus (BYV) functions in virion assembly and cell-to-cell movement and is autonomously targeted to plasmodesmata in association with the actomyosin motility system (A. I. Prokhnevsky, V. V. Peremyslov, and V. V. Dolja, J. Virol. 79:14421-14428, 2005). Myosins are a diverse category of molecular motors that possess a motor domain and a tail domain involved in cargo binding. Plants have two classes of myosins, VIII and XI, whose specific functions are poorly understood. We used dominant negative inhibition to identify myosins required for Hsp70h localization to plasmodesmata. Six full-length myosin cDNAs from the BYV host plant Nicotiana benthamiana were sequenced and shown to encode apparent orthologs of the Arabidopsis thaliana myosins VIII-1, VIII-2, VIII-B, XI-2, XI-F, and XI-K. We found that the ectopic expression of the tail domains of each of the class VIII, but not the class XI, myosins inhibited the plasmodesmatal localization of Hsp70h. In contrast, the overexpression of the motor domains or the entire molecules of the class VIII myosins did not affect Hsp70h targeting. Further mapping revealed that the minimal cargo-binding part of the myosin VIII tails was both essential and sufficient for the inhibition of the proper Hsp70h localization. Interestingly, plasmodesmatal localization of the Tobacco mosaic virus movement protein and Arabidopsis protein RGP2 was not affected by myosin VIII tail overexpression. Collectively, our data implicate class VIII myosins in protein delivery to plasmodesmata and suggest that more than one mechanism of such delivery exist in plants.
Filamentous virions of Beet yellows virus contain a long body formed by a major capsid protein and a short tail that is assembled by a minor capsid protein (CPm), an Hsp70-homolog (Hsp70h), a 64-kDa protein (p64), and a 20-kDa protein (p20). Using mutation analysis and newly developed in planta assays, here we investigate the genetic requirements for the tail assembly. We show that the inactivation of CPm dramatically reduces incorporation of both Hsp70h and p64. Furthermore, inactivation of Hsp70h prevents incorporation of p64 into virions and vice versa. Hsp70h and p64 are each required for efficient incorporation of CPm. We also show that the tails possessing normal relative amounts of CPm, Hsp70h, and p64 can be formed in the absence of the major capsid protein and p20. Similar to the tails isolated from the wild type virions, these mutant tails encapsidate the ~700 nt-long, 5’-terminal segments of the viral RNA. Taken together, our results imply that CPm, Hsp70h and p64 act cooperatively to encapsidate a defined region of the closterovirus genome.
Virus assembly; helical virion; Closterovirus; Hsp70
Recent advances in genomics of viruses and cellular life forms have greatly stimulated interest in the origins and evolution of viruses and, for the first time, offer an opportunity for a data-driven exploration of the deepest roots of viruses. Here we briefly review the current views of virus evolution and propose a new, coherent scenario that appears to be best compatible with comparative-genomic data and is naturally linked to models of cellular evolution that, from independent considerations, seem to be the most parsimonious among the existing ones.
Several genes coding for key proteins involved in viral replication and morphogenesis as well as the major capsid protein of icosahedral virions are shared by many groups of RNA and DNA viruses but are missing in cellular life forms. On the basis of this key observation and the data on extensive genetic exchange between diverse viruses, we propose the concept of the ancient virus world. The virus world is construed as a distinct contingent of viral genes that continuously retained its identity throughout the entire history of life. Under this concept, the principal lineages of viruses and related selfish agents emerged from the primordial pool of primitive genetic elements, the ancestors of both cellular and viral genes. Thus, notwithstanding the numerous gene exchanges and acquisitions attributed to later stages of evolution, most, if not all, modern viruses and other selfish agents are inferred to descend from elements that belonged to the primordial genetic pool. In this pool, RNA viruses would evolve first, followed by retroid elements, and DNA viruses. The Virus World concept is predicated on a model of early evolution whereby emergence of substantial genetic diversity antedates the advent of full-fledged cells, allowing for extensive gene mixing at this early stage of evolution. We outline a scenario of the origin of the main classes of viruses in conjunction with a specific model of precellular evolution under which the primordial gene pool dwelled in a network of inorganic compartments. Somewhat paradoxically, under this scenario, we surmise that selfish genetic elements ancestral to viruses evolved prior to typical cells, to become intracellular parasites once bacteria and archaea arrived at the scene. Selection against excessively aggressive parasites that would kill off the host ensembles of genetic elements would lead to early evolution of temperate virus-like agents and primitive defense mechanisms, possibly, based on the RNA interference principle. The emergence of the eukaryotic cell is construed as the second melting pot of virus evolution from which the major groups of eukaryotic viruses originated as a result of extensive recombination of genes from various bacteriophages, archaeal viruses, plasmids, and the evolving eukaryotic genomes. Again, this vision is predicated on a specific model of the emergence of eukaryotic cell under which archaeo-bacterial symbiosis was the starting point of eukaryogenesis, a scenario that appears to be best compatible with the data.
The existence of several genes that are central to virus replication and structure, are shared by a broad variety of viruses but are missing from cellular genomes (virus hallmark genes) suggests the model of an ancient virus world, a flow of virus-specific genes that went uninterrupted from the precellular stage of life's evolution to this day. This concept is tightly linked to two key conjectures on evolution of cells: existence of a complex, precellular, compartmentalized but extensively mixing and recombining pool of genes, and origin of the eukaryotic cell by archaeo-bacterial fusion. The virus world concept and these models of major transitions in the evolution of cells provide complementary pieces of an emerging coherent picture of life's history.
W. Ford Doolittle, J. Peter Gogarten, and Arcady Mushegian.
The cell-to-cell movement of plant viruses involves translocation of virus particles or nucleoproteins to and through the plasmodesmata (PDs). As we have shown previously, the movement of the Beet yellows virus requires the concerted action of five viral proteins including a homolog of cellular ∼70-kDa heat shock proteins (Hsp70h). Hsp70h is an integral component of the virus particles and is also found in PDs of the infected cells. Here we investigate subcellular distribution of Hsp70h using transient expression of Hsp70h fused to three spectrally distinct fluorescent proteins. We found that fluorophore-tagged Hsp70h forms motile granules that are associated with actin microfilaments, but not with microtubules. In addition, immobile granules were observed at the cell periphery. A pairwise appearance of these granules at the opposite sides of cell walls and their colocalization with the movement protein of Tobacco mosaic virus indicated an association of Hsp70h with PDs. Treatment with various cytoskeleton-specific drugs revealed that the intact actomyosin motility system is required for trafficking of Hsp70h in cytosol and its targeting to PDs. In contrast, none of the drugs interfered with the PD localization of Tobacco mosaic virus movement protein. Collectively, these findings suggest that Hsp70h is translocated and anchored to PDs in association with the actin cytoskeleton.
Cell-to-cell movement of beet yellows closterovirus requires four structural proteins and a 6-kDa protein (p6) that is a conventional, nonstructural movement protein. Here we demonstrate that either virus infection or p6 overexpression results in association of p6 with the rough endoplasmic reticulum. The p6 protein possesses a single-span, transmembrane, N-terminal domain and a hydrophilic, C-terminal domain that is localized on the cytoplasmic face of the endoplasmic reticulum. In the infected cells, p6 forms a disulfide bridge via a cysteine residue located near the protein's N terminus. Mutagenic analyses indicated that each of the p6 domains, as well as protein dimerization, is essential for p6 function in virus movement.
The 66-kDa leader proteinase (L-Pro) of the Beet yellows virus (BYV) possesses a nonconserved N-terminal domain and a conserved, papain-like C-terminal domain. Previous work revealed that the N-terminal domain functions in RNA amplification, whereas the C-terminal domain is required for autoproteolysis. Alanine-scanning mutagenesis was applied to complete the functional analysis of L-Pro throughout the virus life cycle. This analysis indicated that the C-terminal domain of L-Pro, in addition to being required for proteolysis, also functions in RNA amplification and that these two functions are genetically separable. Examination of the role of L-Pro in BYV cell-to-cell movement revealed that none of the 20 examined replication-competent mutants was movement defective. In contrast, six of the L-Pro mutations affected the long-distance transport of BYV to various degrees, whereas three mutations completely abolished the transport. Because these mutations were located throughout the protein molecule, both domains of L-Pro function in virus transport. We conclude that in addition to previously identified functions of L-Pro, it also serves as the BYV long-distance transport factor.
The filamentous virion of the closterovirus Beet yellows virus (BYV) consists of a long body formed by the major capsid protein (CP) and a short tail composed of the minor capsid protein (CPm) and the virus-encoded Hsp70 homolog. By using nano-liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry and biochemical analyses, we show here that the BYV 64-kDa protein (p64) is the fourth integral component of BYV virions. The N-terminal domain of p64 is exposed at the virion surface and is accessible to antibodies and mild trypsin digestion. In contrast, the C-terminal domain is embedded in the virion and is inaccessible to antibodies or trypsin. The C-terminal domain of p64 is shown to be homologous to CP and CPm. Mutation of the signature motifs of capsid proteins of filamentous RNA viruses in p64 results in the formation of tailless virions, which are unable to move from cell to cell. These results reveal the dual function of p64 in tail assembly and BYV motility and support the concept of the virion tail as a specialized device for BYV cell-to-cell movement.
Systemic spread of viruses in plants involves local movement from cell to cell and long-distance transport through the vascular system. The cell-to-cell movement of the Beet yellows virus (BYV) is mediated by a movement protein that is an Hsp70 homolog (Hsp70h). This protein is required for the assembly of movement-competent virions that incorporate Hsp70h. By using the yeast two-hybrid system, in vitro coimmunoprecipitation, and in planta coexpression approaches, we show here that the Hsp70h interacts with a 20-kDa BYV protein (p20). We further demonstrate that p20 is associated with the virions presumably via binding to Hsp70h. Genetic and immunochemical analyses indicate that p20 is dispensable for assembly and cell-to-cell movement of BYV but is required for the long-distance transport of virus through the phloem. These results reveal a novel activity for the Hsp70h that provides a molecular link between the local and systemic spread of a plant virus by docking a long-distance transport factor to virions.
Members of the Closteroviridae and Potyviridae families of the plant positive-strand RNA viruses encode one or two papain-like leader proteinases. In addition to a C-terminal proteolytic domain, each of these proteinases possesses a nonproteolytic N-terminal domain. We compared functions of the several leader proteinases using a gene swapping approach. The leader proteinase (L-Pro) of Beet yellows virus (BYV; a closterovirus) was replaced with L1 or L2 proteinases of Citrus tristeza virus (CTV; another closterovirus), P-Pro proteinase of Lettuce infectious yellows virus (LIYV; a crinivirus), and HC-Pro proteinase of Tobacco etch virus (a potyvirus). Each foreign proteinase efficiently processed the chimeric BYV polyprotein in vitro. However, only L1 and P-Pro, not L2 and HC-Pro, were able to rescue the amplification of the chimeric BYV variants. The combined expression of L1 and L2 resulted in an increased RNA accumulation compared to that of the parental BYV. Remarkably, this L1-L2 chimera exhibited reduced invasiveness and inability to move from cell to cell. Similar analyses of the BYV hybrids, in which only the papain-like domain of L-Pro was replaced with those derived from L1, L2, P-Pro, and HC-Pro, also revealed functional specialization of these domains. In subcellular-localization experiments, distinct patterns were observed for the leader proteinases of BYV, CTV, and LIYV. Taken together, these results demonstrated that, in addition to a common proteolytic activity, the leader proteinases of closteroviruses possess specialized functions in virus RNA amplification, virus invasion, and cell-to-cell movement. The phylogenetic analysis suggested that functionally distinct L1 and L2 of CTV originated by a gene duplication event.
The beet yellows closterovirus leader proteinase (L-Pro) possesses a C-terminal proteinase domain and a nonproteolytic N-terminal domain. It was found that although L-Pro is not essential for basal-level replication, deletion of its N-terminal domain resulted in a 1,000-fold reduction in RNA accumulation. Mutagenic analysis of the N-terminal domain revealed its structural flexibility except for the 54-codon-long, 5′-terminal element in the corresponding open reading frame that is critical for efficient RNA amplification at both RNA and protein levels.
A reporter open reading frame (ORF) coding for a fusion of bacterial β-glucuronidase (GUS) with a proteinase domain (Pro) derived from tobacco etch potyvirus was utilized for tagging individual genes of beet yellows closterovirus (BYV). Insertion of this reporter ORF between the first and second codons of the BYV ORFs encoding the HSP70 homolog (HSP70h), a major capsid protein (CP), and a 20-kDa protein (p20) resulted in the expression of the processed GUS-Pro reporter from corresponding subgenomic RNAs. The high sensitivity of GUS assays permitted temporal analysis of reporter accumulation, revealing early expression from the HSP70h promoter, followed by the CP promoter and later the p20 promoter. The kinetics of transcription of the remaining BYV genes encoding a 64-kDa protein (p64), a minor capsid protein (CPm), and a 21-kDa protein (p21) were examined via Northern blot analysis. Taken together, the data indicated that the temporal regulation of BYV gene expression includes early (HSP70h, CPm, CP, and p21 promoters) and late (p64 and p20 promoters) phases. It was also demonstrated that the deletion of six viral genes that are nonessential for RNA amplification resulted in a dramatic increase in the level of transcription from one of the two remaining subgenomic promoters. Comparison with other positive-strand RNA viruses producing multiple subgenomic RNAs showed the uniqueness of the pattern of closterovirus transcriptional regulation.
A full-length cDNA clone of beet yellows closterovirus (BYV) was engineered and used to map functions involved in the replication of the viral RNA genome and subgenomic RNA formation. Among 10 open reading frames (ORFs) present in BYV, ORFs 1a and 1b suffice for RNA replication and transcription. The proteins encoded in these ORFs harbor putative methyltransferase, RNA helicase, and RNA polymerase domains common to Sindbis virus-like viruses and a large interdomain region that is unique to closteroviruses. The papain-like leader proteinase (L-Pro) encoded in the 5′-proximal region of ORF 1a was found to have a dual function in genome amplification. First, the autocatalytic cleavage between L-Pro and the remainder of the ORF 1a product was essential for replication of RNA. Second, an additional L-Pro function that was separable from proteolytic activity was required for efficient RNA accumulation. The deletion of a large, ∼5.6-kb, 3′-terminal region coding for a 6-kDa hydrophobic protein, an HSP70 homolog, a 64-kDa protein, minor and major capsid proteins, a 20-kDa protein, and a 21-kDa protein (p21) resulted in replication-competent RNA. However, examination of mutants with replacements of start codons in each of these seven 3′-terminal ORFs revealed that p21 functions as an enhancer of genome amplification. The intriguing analogies between the genome organization and replicational requirements of plant closteroviruses and animal coronavirus-like viruses are discussed.