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1.  Study of the Plant COPII Vesicle Coat Subunits by Functional Complementation of Yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae Mutants 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e90072.
The formation and budding of endoplasmic reticulum ER-derived vesicles depends on the COPII coat protein complex that was first identified in yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The ER-associated Sec12 and the Sar1 GTPase initiate the COPII coat formation by recruiting the Sec23–Sec24 heterodimer following the subsequent recruitment of the Sec13–Sec31 heterotetramer. In yeast, there is usually one gene encoding each COPII protein and these proteins are essential for yeast viability, whereas the plant genome encodes multiple isoforms of all COPII subunits. Here, we used a systematic yeast complementation assay to assess the functionality of Arabidopsis thaliana COPII proteins. In this study, the different plant COPII subunits were expressed in their corresponding temperature-sensitive yeast mutant strain to complement their thermosensitivity and secretion phenotypes. Secretion was assessed using two different yeast cargos: the soluble α-factor pheromone and the membranous v-SNARE (vesicle-soluble NSF (N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor) attachment protein receptor) Snc1 involved in the fusion of the secretory vesicles with the plasma membrane. This complementation study allowed the identification of functional A. thaliana COPII proteins for the Sec12, Sar1, Sec24 and Sec13 subunits that could represent an active COPII complex in plant cells. Moreover, we found that AtSec12 and AtSec23 were co-immunoprecipitated with AtSar1 in total cell extract of 15 day-old seedlings of A. thaliana. This demonstrates that AtSar1, AtSec12 and AtSec23 can form a protein complex that might represent an active COPII complex in plant cells.
PMCID: PMC3934973  PMID: 24587212
2.  Tubule-Guided Cell-to-Cell Movement of a Plant Virus Requires Class XI Myosin Motors 
PLoS Pathogens  2011;7(10):e1002327.
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.
Author Summary
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.
PMCID: PMC3203191  PMID: 22046131
3.  Structural Insights into Viral Determinants of Nematode Mediated Grapevine fanleaf virus Transmission 
PLoS Pathogens  2011;7(5):e1002034.
Many animal and plant viruses rely on vectors for their transmission from host to host. Grapevine fanleaf virus (GFLV), a picorna-like virus from plants, is transmitted specifically by the ectoparasitic nematode Xiphinema index. The icosahedral capsid of GFLV, which consists of 60 identical coat protein subunits (CP), carries the determinants of this specificity. Here, we provide novel insight into GFLV transmission by nematodes through a comparative structural and functional analysis of two GFLV variants. We isolated a mutant GFLV strain (GFLV-TD) poorly transmissible by nematodes, and showed that the transmission defect is due to a glycine to aspartate mutation at position 297 (Gly297Asp) in the CP. We next determined the crystal structures of the wild-type GFLV strain F13 at 3.0 Å and of GFLV-TD at 2.7 Å resolution. The Gly297Asp mutation mapped to an exposed loop at the outer surface of the capsid and did not affect the conformation of the assembled capsid, nor of individual CP molecules. The loop is part of a positively charged pocket that includes a previously identified determinant of transmission. We propose that this pocket is a ligand-binding site with essential function in GFLV transmission by X. index. Our data suggest that perturbation of the electrostatic landscape of this pocket affects the interaction of the virion with specific receptors of the nematode's feeding apparatus, and thereby severely diminishes its transmission efficiency. These data provide a first structural insight into the interactions between a plant virus and a nematode vector.
Author Summary
Numerous pathogenic viruses from animals and plants rely on vectors such as insects, worms or other organisms for their transmission from host to host. The reasons why certain vectors transmit some viruses but not others remain poorly understood. In plants, Grapevine fanleaf virus (GFLV), a major pathogen of grapes worldwide and its specific vector, the dagger nematode Xiphinema index, provides a well-established model illustrating this specificity. Here, we determined the high-resolution structures of two GFLV isolates that differ in their transmissibility. We show that this difference is due to a single mutation in a region exposed at the outer surface of the viral particles. This mutation does not alter the conformation of the particles but modifies the distribution of charges within a positively-charged pocket at the outer surface of virions which likely affects particle retention by X. index and, thereby also transmission efficiency. Therefore, we propose that this pocket is involved in the specific recognition of GFLV by its nematode vector. This work paves the way towards the characterization of the specific compound(s) within the nematodes that trigger vector specificity and provides novel perspectives to interfere with virus transmission.
PMCID: PMC3098200  PMID: 21625570
4.  A Stretch of 11 Amino Acids in the βB-βC Loop of the Coat Protein of Grapevine Fanleaf Virus Is Essential for Transmission by the Nematode Xiphinema index▿ †  
Journal of Virology  2010;84(16):7924-7933.
Grapevine fanleaf virus (GFLV) and Arabis mosaic virus (ArMV) from the genus Nepovirus, family Secoviridae, cause a severe degeneration of grapevines. GFLV and ArMV have a bipartite RNA genome and are transmitted specifically by the ectoparasitic nematodes Xiphinema index and Xiphinema diversicaudatum, respectively. The transmission specificity of both viruses maps to their respective RNA2-encoded coat protein (CP). To further delineate the GFLV CP determinants of transmission specificity, three-dimensional (3D) homology structure models of virions and CP subunits were constructed based on the crystal structure of Tobacco ringspot virus, the type member of the genus Nepovirus. The 3D models were examined to predict amino acids that are exposed at the external virion surface, highly conserved among GFLV isolates but divergent between GFLV and ArMV. Five short amino acid stretches that matched these topographical and sequence conservation criteria were selected and substituted in single and multiple combinations by their ArMV counterparts in a GFLV RNA2 cDNA clone. Among the 21 chimeric RNA2 molecules engineered, transcripts of only three of them induced systemic plant infection in the presence of GFLV RNA1. Nematode transmission assays of the three viable recombinant viruses showed that swapping a stretch of (i) 11 residues in the βB-βC loop near the icosahedral 3-fold axis abolished transmission by X. index but was insufficient to restore transmission by X. diversicaudatum and (ii) 7 residues in the βE-αB loop did not interfere with transmission by the two Xiphinema species. This study provides new insights into GFLV CP determinants of nematode transmission.
PMCID: PMC2916547  PMID: 20519403
5.  A Family of Plasmodesmal Proteins with Receptor-Like Properties for Plant Viral Movement Proteins 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(9):e1001119.
Plasmodesmata (PD) are essential but poorly understood structures in plant cell walls that provide symplastic continuity and intercellular communication pathways between adjacent cells and thus play fundamental roles in development and pathogenesis. Viruses encode movement proteins (MPs) that modify these tightly regulated pores to facilitate their spread from cell to cell. The most striking of these modifications is observed for groups of viruses whose MPs form tubules that assemble in PDs and through which virions are transported to neighbouring cells. The nature of the molecular interactions between viral MPs and PD components and their role in viral movement has remained essentially unknown. Here, we show that the family of PD-located proteins (PDLPs) promotes the movement of viruses that use tubule-guided movement by interacting redundantly with tubule-forming MPs within PDs. Genetic disruption of this interaction leads to reduced tubule formation, delayed infection and attenuated symptoms. Our results implicate PDLPs as PD proteins with receptor-like properties involved the assembly of viral MPs into tubules to promote viral movement.
Author Summary
In plants, spreading virus infection occurs via small pores in the cell wall named plasmodesmata that connect adjacent cells. Two decades have passed since the first discovery of specific viral proteins (movement proteins; MP) that assist this process. However, the manner by which these proteins adapt plasmodesmata to allow the movement of relatively large viral structures remains largely unknown. Here, we show that a family of plasmodesmata-located proteins, called PDLPs, which are conserved amongst higher plants, specifically mediate this process. PDLPs bind classes of MP that assemble into tubules within plasmodesmata to promote the movement of entire virions. This class of MP occurs for a diverse range of plant virus genera and we show that representatives of these viruses have MPs that bind PDLPs. The importance of PDLPs in this process was shown when reduction in accumulation led to reduced tubule formation, delayed infection and attenuated symptoms. Altogether, our study supports a scenario whereby the PDLPs work together to support virus infection of plants and as such provide important mechanistic insights into the movement mechanism of plant viruses within their hosts.
PMCID: PMC2944810  PMID: 20886105
6.  Cytosolic N-terminal arginine-based signals together with a luminal signal target a type II membrane protein to the plant ER 
BMC Plant Biology  2009;9:144.
In eukaryotic cells, the membrane compartments that constitute the exocytic pathway are traversed by a constant flow of lipids and proteins. This is particularly true for the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), the main "gateway of the secretory pathway", where biosynthesis of sterols, lipids, membrane-bound and soluble proteins, and glycoproteins occurs. Maintenance of the resident proteins in this compartment implies they have to be distinguished from the secretory cargo. To this end, they must possess specific ER localization determinants to prevent their exit from the ER, and/or to interact with receptors responsible for their retrieval from the Golgi apparatus. Very few information is available about the signal(s) involved in the retention of membrane type II protein in the ER but it is generally accepted that sorting of ER type II cargo membrane proteins depends on motifs mainly located in their cytosolic tails.
Here, using Arabidopsis glucosidase I as a model, we have identified two types of signals sufficient for the location of a type II membrane protein in the ER. A first signal is located in the luminal domain, while a second signal corresponds to a short amino acid sequence located in the cytosolic tail of the membrane protein. The cytosolic tail contains at its N-terminal end four arginine residues constitutive of three di-arginine motifs (RR, RXR or RXXR) independently sufficient to confer ER localization. Interestingly, when only one di-arginine motif is present, fusion proteins are located both in the ER and in mobile punctate structures, distinct but close to Golgi bodies. Soluble and membrane ER protein markers are excluded from these punctate structures, which also do not colocalize with an ER-exit-site marker. It is hypothesized they correspond to sites involved in Golgi to ER retrotransport.
Altogether, these results clearly show that cytosolic and luminal signals responsible for ER retention could coexist in a same type II membrane protein. These data also suggest that both retrieval and retention mechanisms govern protein residency in the ER membrane. We hypothesized that mobile punctate structures not yet described at the ER/Golgi interface and tentatively named GERES, could be involved in retrieval mechanisms from the Golgi to the ER.
PMCID: PMC2799409  PMID: 19995436
7.  Specific Targeting of a Plasmodesmal Protein Affecting Cell-to-Cell Communication  
PLoS Biology  2008;6(1):e7.
Plasmodesmata provide the cytoplasmic conduits for cell-to-cell communication throughout plant tissues and participate in a diverse set of non–cell-autonomous functions. Despite their central role in growth and development and defence, resolving their modus operandi remains a major challenge in plant biology. Features of protein sequences and/or structure that determine protein targeting to plasmodesmata were previously unknown. We identify here a novel family of plasmodesmata-located proteins (called PDLP1) whose members have the features of type I membrane receptor-like proteins. We focus our studies on the first identified type member (namely At5g43980, or PDLP1a) and show that, following its altered expression, it is effective in modulating cell-to-cell trafficking. PDLP1a is targeted to plasmodesmata via the secretory pathway in a Brefeldin A–sensitive and COPII-dependent manner, and resides at plasmodesmata with its C-terminus in the cytoplasmic domain and its N-terminus in the apoplast. Using a deletion analysis, we show that the single transmembrane domain (TMD) of PDLP1a contains all the information necessary for intracellular targeting of this type I membrane protein to plasmodesmata, such that the TMD can be used to target heterologous proteins to this location. These studies identify a new family of plasmodesmal proteins that affect cell-to-cell communication. They exhibit a mode of intracellular trafficking and targeting novel for plant biology and provide technological opportunities for targeting different proteins to plasmodesmata to aid in plasmodesmal characterisation.
Author Summary
In plants, cylindrical, microscopic channels called plasmodesmata provide intracellular connections between cells for communication and material transport, and are important for many aspects of plant growth and defence. We identify a novel family of plasmodesmata-located proteins (called PDLP1) with features of type I membrane receptor-like proteins. In line with the potential for this protein to regulate molecular movement from cell to cell, we show that altered expression of the protein changes the efficiency of protein diffusion from plasmodesmata. We have also analysed the manner in which PDLP1 is transported to plasmodesmata. We show that the single transmembrane domain (TMD) of the protein contains all the information necessary for targeting to plasmodesmata and that proper targeting depends upon specific interactions with other factors within the membrane. Notably, a single amino acid close to the C-terminus of the TMD is critical for determining the intracellular destination. Further, by fusing the TMD to yellow fluorescent protein, we establish that the TMD can be used to target heterologous proteins to plasmodesmata.
Little is know about the structure and function of plant cell-to-cell connections, called plasmodesmata. This paper describes a new family of plasmodesmal proteins and the processes controlling their subcellular trafficking.
PMCID: PMC2211546  PMID: 18215111
9.  Tobacco Mosaic Virus Movement Protein Functions as a Structural Microtubule-Associated Protein 
Journal of Virology  2006;80(17):8329-8344.
The cell-to-cell spread of Tobacco mosaic virus infection depends on virus-encoded movement protein (MP), which is believed to form a ribonucleoprotein complex with viral RNA (vRNA) and to participate in the intercellular spread of infectious particles through plasmodesmata. Previous studies in our laboratory have provided evidence that the vRNA movement process is correlated with the ability of the MP to interact with microtubules, although the exact role of this interaction during infection is not known. Here, we have used a variety of in vivo and in vitro assays to determine that the MP functions as a genuine microtubule-associated protein that binds microtubules directly and modulates microtubule stability. We demonstrate that, unlike MP in whole-cell extract, microtubule-associated MP is not ubiquitinated, which strongly argues against the hypothesis that microtubules target the MP for degradation. In addition, we found that MP interferes with kinesin motor activity in vitro, suggesting that microtubule-associated MP may interfere with kinesin-driven transport processes during infection.
PMCID: PMC1563862  PMID: 16912284
10.  Challenging the Role of Microtubules in Tobacco Mosaic Virus Movement by Drug Treatments Is Disputable 
Journal of Virology  2006;80(13):6712-6715.
The movement protein (MP) of Tobacco mosaic virus interacts with microtubules during infection. Although this interaction is correlated with the function of MP in the cell-to-cell transport of viral RNA, a direct role of microtubules in the movement process was recently challenged by studies involving the treatment of plants with inhibitors of microtubule polymerization. Here, we report evidence suggesting that such treatments may not efficiently disrupt all microtubules. Thus, results obtained from studies using microtubule inhibitors may have to remain open to interpretation with regard to the involvement of microtubules in viral RNA trafficking.
PMCID: PMC1488984  PMID: 16775361
11.  Intracellular Localization of the Peanut Clump Virus Replication Complex in Tobacco BY-2 Protoplasts Containing Green Fluorescent Protein-Labeled Endoplasmic Reticulum or Golgi Apparatus 
Journal of Virology  2002;76(2):865-874.
RNA-1 of Peanut clump virus (PCV) encodes the proteins P131 and P191, containing the signature motifs of replication proteins, and P15, which regulates viral RNA accumulation. In PCV-infected protoplasts both P131 and P191 were immunodetected in the perinuclear region. Laser scanning confocal microscopy (LSCM) showed that P131 and P191 colocalized with neosynthesized 5-bromouridine 5′-triphosphate-labeled RNA and double-stranded RNA, demonstrating that they belong to the replication complex. On the contrary, the P15 fused to the enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) never colocalized with the two proteins. In endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-GFP transgenic BY-2 protoplasts, the distribution of the green fluorescent-labeled ER was strongly modified by PCV infection. LSCM showed that both P131 and P191 colocalized with ER green fluorescent bodies accumulating around the nucleus during infection. The replication process was not inhibited by cerulenin and brefeldin A, suggesting that PCV replication does not depend on de novo-synthesized membrane and does not require transport through the Golgi apparatus. Electron microscopy of ultrathin sections of infected protoplasts showed aggregates of broken ER but also visualized vesicles, some of which resembled modified peroxisomes. The results suggest that accumulation of PCV during infection is accompanied by specific association of PCV RNA-1-encoded proteins with membranes of the ER and other organelles. The concomitant extensive rearrangement of these membranous structures leads to the formation of intracellular compartments in which synthesis and accumulation of the viral RNA occur in defined areas.
PMCID: PMC136813  PMID: 11752175
12.  Peanut Clump Virus RNA-1-Encoded P15 Regulates Viral RNA Accumulation but Is Not Abundant at Viral RNA Replication Sites 
Journal of Virology  2001;75(4):1941-1948.
RNA-1 of peanut clump pecluvirus (PCV) encodes N-terminally overlapping proteins which contain helicase-like (P131) and polymerase-like (P191) domains and is able to replicate in the absence of RNA-2 in protoplasts of tobacco BY-2 cells. RNA-1 also encodes P15, which is expressed via a subgenomic RNA. To investigate the role of P15, we analyzed RNA accumulation in tobacco BY-2 protoplasts inoculated with RNA-1 containing mutations in P15. For all the mutants, the amount of progeny RNA-1 produced was significantly lower than that obtained for wild-type RNA-1. If RNA-2 was included in the inoculum, the accumulation of both progeny RNAs was diminished, but near-normal yields of both could be recovered if the inoculum was supplemented with a small, chimeric viral replicon expressing P15, demonstrating that P15 has an effect on viral RNA accumulation. To further analyze the role of P15, transcripts were produced expressing P15 fused to enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP). Following inoculation to protoplasts, epifluorescence microscopy revealed that P15 accumulated as spots around the nucleus and in the cytoplasm. Intracellular sites of viral RNA synthesis were visualized by laser scanning confocal microscopy of infected protoplasts labeled with 5-bromouridine 5′-triphosphate (BrUTP). BrUTP labeling also occured in spots distributed within the cytoplasm and around the nucleus. However, the BrUTP-labeled RNA and EGFP/P15 very rarely colocalized, suggesting that P15 does not act primarily at sites of viral replication but intervenes indirectly to control viral accumulation levels.
PMCID: PMC115140  PMID: 11160693

Results 1-12 (12)