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.
Myosins and actin filaments in the actomyosin system act in concert in regulating cell structure and dynamics and are also assumed to contribute to plant gravitropic response. To investigate the role of the actomyosin system in the inflorescence stem gravitropism, we used single and multiple mutants affecting each of the 17 Arabidopsis myosins of class VIII and XI. We show that class XI but not class VIII myosins are required for stem gravitropism. Simultaneous loss of function of myosins XI1, XI2, and XIK leads to impaired gravitropic bending that is correlated with altered growth, stiffness, and insufficient sedimentation of gravity sensing amyloplasts in stem endodermal cells. The gravitropic defect of the corresponding triple mutant xi1 xi2 xik could be rescued by stable expression of the functional XIK:YFP in the mutant background, indicating a role of class XI myosins in this process. Altogether, our results emphasize the critical contributions of myosins XI in stem gravitropism of Arabidopsis.
Arabidopsis; actin filaments; myosins; T-DNA mutants; gravitropism; amyloplasts
Using genetic approaches, particle image velocimetry and an inert tracer of cytoplasmic streaming, we have made a mechanistic connection between the motor proteins (myosins XI), cargo transported by these motors (distinct endomembrane compartment defined by membrane-anchored MyoB receptors) and the process of cytoplasmic streaming in plant cells. It is shown that the MyoB compartment in Nicotiana benthamiana is highly dynamic moving with the mean velocity of ~3 μm/sec. In contrast, Golgi, mitochondria, peroxisomes, carrier vesicles and a cytosol flow tracer share distinct velocity profile with mean velocities of 0.6–1.5 μm/sec. Dominant negative inhibition of the myosins XI or MyoB receptors using overexpression of the N. benthamiana myosin cargo-binding domain or MyoB myosin-binding domain, respectively, resulted in velocity reduction for not only the MyoB compartment, but also each of the tested organelles, vesicles and cytoplasmic streaming. Furthermore, the extents of this reduction were similar for each of these compartments suggesting that MyoB compartment plays primary role in cytosol dynamics. Using gene knockout analysis in Arabidopsis thaliana, it is demonstrated that inactivation of MyoB1-4 results in reduced velocity of mitochondria implying slower cytoplasmic streaming. It is also shown that myosins XI and MyoB receptors genetically interact to contribute to cell expansion, plant growth, morphogenesis and proper onset of flowering. These results support a model according to which myosin-dependent, MyoB receptor-mediated transport of a specialized membrane compartment that is conserved in all land plants drives cytoplasmic streaming that carries organelles and vesicles and facilitates cell growth and plant development.
Viruses were defined as one of the two principal types of organisms in the biosphere, namely, as capsid-encoding organisms in contrast to ribosome-encoding organisms, i.e., all cellular life forms. Structurally similar, apparently homologous capsids are present in a huge variety of icosahedral viruses that infect bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes. These findings prompted the concept of the capsid as the virus “self” that defines the identity of deep, ancient viral lineages. However, several other widespread viral “hallmark genes” encode key components of the viral replication apparatus (such as polymerases and helicases) and combine with different capsid proteins, given the inherently modular character of viral evolution. Furthermore, diverse, widespread, capsidless selfish genetic elements, such as plasmids and various types of transposons, share hallmark genes with viruses. Viruses appear to have evolved from capsidless selfish elements, and vice versa, on multiple occasions during evolution. At the earliest, precellular stage of life's evolution, capsidless genetic parasites most likely emerged first and subsequently gave rise to different classes of viruses. In this review, we develop the concept of a greater virus world which forms an evolutionary network that is held together by shared conserved genes and includes both bona fide capsid-encoding viruses and different classes of capsidless replicons. Theoretical studies indicate that selfish replicons (genetic parasites) inevitably emerge in any sufficiently complex evolving ensemble of replicators. Therefore, the key signature of the greater virus world is not the presence of a capsid but rather genetic, informational parasitism itself, i.e., various degrees of reliance on the information processing systems of the host.
Plant viruses of the recently recognized family Amalgaviridae have monopartite double-stranded (ds) RNA genomes and encode two proteins: an RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) and a putative capsid protein (CP). Whereas the RdRp of amalgaviruses has been found to be most closely related to the RdRps of dsRNA viruses of the family Partitiviridae, the provenance of their CP remained obscure. Here we show that the CP of amalgaviruses is homologous to the nucleocapsid proteins of negative-strand RNA viruses of the genera Phlebovirus (Bunyaviridae) and Tenuivirus. The chimeric genomes of amalgaviruses are a testament to the effectively limitless gene exchange between viruses that shaped the evolution of the virosphere.
Reviewers: This article was reviewed by Lakshminarayan M. Iyer and Nick V. Grishin. For complete reviews, see the Reviewers’ Reports section.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13062-015-0047-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Amalgaviridae; Virus origin; dsRNA viruses; Negative-sense RNA viruses; Capsid proteins
Viruses and/or virus-like selfish elements are associated with all cellular life forms and are the most abundant biological entities on Earth, with the number of virus particles in many environments exceeding the number of cells by one to two orders of magnitude. The genetic diversity of viruses is commensurately enormous and might substantially exceed the diversity of cellular organisms. Unlike cellular organisms with their uniform replication-expression scheme, viruses possess either RNA or DNA genomes and exploit all conceivable replication-expression strategies. Although viruses extensively exchange genes with their hosts, there exists a set of viral hallmark genes that are shared by extremely diverse groups of viruses to the exclusion of cellular life forms. Coevolution of viruses and host defense systems is a key aspect in the evolution of both viruses and cells, and viral genes are often recruited for cellular functions. Together with the fundamental inevitability of the emergence of genomic parasites in any evolving replicator system, these multiple lines of evidence reveal the central role of viruses in the entire evolution of life.
Viruses are obligatory parasites that depend on host cellular factors for their replication as well as for their local and systemic movement to establish infection. Although myosin motors are thought to contribute to plant virus infection, their exact roles in the specific infection steps have not been addressed. Here we investigated the replication, cell-to-cell and systemic spread of Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) using dominant negative inhibition of myosin activity. We found that interference with the functions of three class VIII myosins and two class XI myosins significantly reduced the local and long-distance transport of the virus. We further determined that the inactivation of myosins XI-2 and XI-K affected the structure and dynamic behavior of the ER leading to aggregation of the viral movement protein (MP) and to a delay in the MP accumulation in plasmodesmata (PD). The inactivation of myosin XI-2 but not of myosin XI-K affected the localization pattern of the 126k replicase subunit and the level of TMV accumulation. The inhibition of myosins VIII-1, VIII-2 and VIII-B abolished MP localization to PD and caused its retention at the plasma membrane. These results suggest that class XI myosins contribute to the viral propagation and intracellular trafficking, whereas myosins VIII are specifically required for the MP targeting to and virus movement through the PD. Thus, TMV appears to recruit distinct myosins for different steps in the cell-to-cell spread of the infection.
Viruses are parasites that require the host cell machinery for their propagation within and between cells. Myosins are molecular motors involved in the trafficking of cargos along actin filaments. Plant viruses have evolved to borrow this transport mechanism to aid their infection and spread within the plant. However, little is known about which of the many plant myosins are essential and at which specific steps they act to support virus infection. Here we investigated the role of different N. benthamiana myosins during the infection by Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV). Our results show that class XI myosins play specific roles in the reproduction and intracellular movement of TMV in association with the dynamic endoplasmic reticulum network, whereas class VIII myosins support the specific targeting of the viral movement protein to plasmodesmata and thus the cell-to-cell movement of the virus. Together these results indicate that TMV interacts with distinct myosins during specific infection steps.
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.