Gene silencing: plants and viruses fight it out.
Plants can become 'immune' to attack by viruses by degrading specific viral RNA, but some plant viruses have evolved the general capacity to suppress this resistance mechanism. (+info)
Physical and functional heterogeneity in TYMV RNA: evidence for the existence of an independent messenger coding for coat protein.
Turnip yellow mosaic virus RNA can be separated into two distinct components of 2 times 10(6) and 300 000 daltons molecular weight after moderate heat treatment in the presence of SDS or EDTA. The two species cannot have arisen by accidental in vitro degradation of a larger RNA, as they both possess capped 5' ends. Analysis of the newly synthesized proteins resulting from translation of each RNA by a wheat germ extract shows that the 300 000 molecular weight RNA can be translated very efficiently into coat protein. When translated in vitro the longer RNA gave a series of high molecular weight polypeptides but only very small amounts of a polypeptide having about the same mass as the coat protein. Thus our results suggest that the small RNA is the functional messenger for coat protein synthesis in infected cells. (+info)
Heavy de novo methylation at symmetrical and non-symmetrical sites is a hallmark of RNA-directed DNA methylation.
Previous analysis of potato spindle tuber viroid (PSTVd) RNA-infected tobacco plants has suggested that an RNA-DNA interaction could trigger de novo methylation of PSTVd transgene sequences. Using the genomic sequencing technique, the methylation pattern associated with the RNA-directed DNA methylation process has been characterized. Three different PSTVd transgene constructs all showed a similar pattern of methylation. Most of the cytosines at symmetrical as well as non-symmetrical positions appeared to be methylated in both DNA strands of the viroid sequences. Heavy methylation was mostly restricted to the viroid cDNA sequences. Flanking DNA regions immediately adjacent to the viroid cDNA displayed a lower but significant level of cytosine methylation. The observation that the heavy methylation was essentially co-extensive with the length of the PSTVd cDNA sequences provided evidence that a direct RNA-DNA interaction can act as a strong and highly specific signal for de novo DNA methylation. These data also confirmed that de novo methylation was not limited to canonical CpG and CpNpG sites, but can also involve all the cytosine residues located in the genomic region where the RNA-DNA interaction takes place. (+info)
Strong host resistance targeted against a viral suppressor of the plant gene silencing defence mechanism.
The 2b protein encoded by cucumber mosaic cucumovirus (Cmv2b) acts as an important virulence determinant by suppressing post-transcriptional gene silencing (PTGS), a natural plant defence mechanism against viruses. We report here that the tomato aspermy cucumovirus 2b protein (Tav2b), when expressed from the unrelated tobacco mosaic tobamovirus (TMV) RNA genome, activates strong host resistance responses to TMV in tobacco which are typical of the gene-for-gene disease resistance mechanism. Domain swapping between Cmv2b, which does not elicit these responses, and Tav2b, revealed functional domains in Tav2b critical for triggering virus resistance and hypersensitive cell death. Furthermore, substitution of two amino acids from Tav2b by those found at the same positions in Cmv2b, Lys21-->Val and Arg28-->Ser, abolished the ability to induce hypersensitive cell death and virus resistance. However, in Nicotiana benthamiana, a species related to tobacco, Tav2b functions as a virulence determinant and suppresses PTGS. Thus, a viral suppressor of the host gene silencing defence mechanism is the target of another independent host resistance mechanism. Our results provide new insights into the complex molecular strategies employed by viruses and their hosts for defence, counter-defence and counter counter-defence. (+info)
Identification of the RNA-binding sites of the triple gene block protein 1 of bamboo mosaic potexvirus.
The triple gene block protein 1 (TGBp1) encoded by open reading frame 2 of bamboo mosaic potexvirus (BaMV) was overexpressed in Escherichia coli and purified in order to test its RNA-binding activity. UV crosslinking assays revealed that the RNA-binding activity was present mainly in the soluble fraction of the refolded TGBp1. The binding activity was nonspecific and salt concentration-dependent: activity was present at 0-50 mM NaCl but was almost abolished at 200 mM. The RNA-binding domain was located by deletion mutagenesis to the N-terminal 3-24 amino acids of TGBp1. Sequence alignment analysis of the N-terminal 25 amino acids of the TGBp1 homologues of potexviruses identified three arginine residues. Arg-to-Ala substitution at any one of the three arginines eliminated most of the RNA-binding activity, indicating that they were all critical to the RNA-binding activity of the TGBp1 of BaMV. (+info)
Identification of a novel circular single-stranded DNA associated with cotton leaf curl disease in Pakistan.
Recent reports have suggested that cotton leaf curl virus (CLCuV), a geminivirus of the genus Begomovirus, may be responsible for cotton leaf curl disease in Pakistan. However, the causal agent of the disease remains unclear as CLCuV genomic components resembling begomovirus DNA A are unable to induce typical disease symptoms when reintroduced into plants. All attempts to isolate a genomic component equivalent to begomovirus DNA B have been unsuccessful. Here, we describe the isolation and characterisation of a novel circular single-stranded (ss) DNA associated with naturally infected cotton plants. In addition to a component resembling DNA A, purified geminate particles contain a smaller unrelated ssDNA that we refer to as DNA 1. DNA 1 was cloned from double-stranded replicative form of the viral DNA isolated from infected cotton plants. Blot hybridisation using probes specific for either CLCuV DNA or DNA 1 was used to demonstrate that both DNAs co-infect naturally infected cotton plants from different geographical locations. DNA 1 was detected in viruliferous Bemisia tabaci and in tobacco plants infected under laboratory conditions using B. tabaci, indicating that it is transmitted by whiteflies. Sequence analysis showed that DNA 1 is approximately half the size of CLCuV DNA but shares no homology, indicating that it is not a defective geminivirus component. DNA 1 has some homology to a genomic component of members of Nanoviridae, a family of DNA viruses that are normally transmitted by aphids or planthoppers. DNA 1 encodes a homologue of the nanovirus replication-associated protein (Rep) and has the capacity to autonomously replicate in tobacco. The data suggest that a nanovirus-like DNA has become whitefly-transmissible as a result of its association with a geminivirus and that cotton leaf curl disease may result from a mutually dependent relationship that has developed between members of two distinct DNA virus families that share a similar replication strategy. (+info)
Symptom attenuation by a satellite RNA in vivo is dependent on reduced levels of virus coat protein.
Many plant RNA viruses provide replication and encapsidation functions for one or more satellite RNAs (sat-RNAs) that can modulate the symptoms of the associated helper virus. Sat-RNA C, a virulent sat-RNA associated with turnip crinkle virus (TCV), normally intensifies symptoms but can attenuate symptoms if the TCV coat protein (CP) is replaced with that of cardamine chlorotic fleck carmovirus [Kong et al. (1995) Plant Cell 7, 1625-1634] or if TCV contains an alteration in the CP initiation codon (TCV-CPm) [Kong et al. (1997b) Plant Cell 9, 2051-2063]. To further elucidate the mechanism of symptom attenuation by sat-RNA C, the composition of the CP produced by TCV-CPm (CPCPm) was determined. Our results reveal that CPCPm likely has two additional amino acids at its N-terminus compared with wild-type TCV CP. TCV-CPm produces reduced levels of CP, and this reduction, not the two additional residues at the CP N-terminus, is responsible for symptom attenuation by sat-RNA C. (+info)
Evidence that a plant virus switched hosts to infect a vertebrate and then recombined with a vertebrate-infecting virus.
There are several similarities between the small, circular, single-stranded-DNA genomes of circoviruses that infect vertebrates and the nanoviruses that infect plants. We analyzed circovirus and nanovirus replication initiator protein (Rep) sequences and confirmed that an N-terminal region in circovirus Reps is similar to an equivalent region in nanovirus Reps. However, we found that the remaining C-terminal region is related to an RNA-binding protein (protein 2C), encoded by picorna-like viruses, and we concluded that the sequence encoding this region of Rep was acquired from one of these single-stranded RNA viruses, probably a calicivirus, by recombination. This is clear evidence that a DNA virus has incorporated a gene from an RNA virus, and the fact that none of these viruses code for a reverse transcriptase suggests that another agent with this capacity was involved. Circoviruses were thought to be a sister-group of nanoviruses, but our phylogenetic analyses, which take account of the recombination, indicate that circoviruses evolved from a nanovirus. A nanovirus DNA was transferred from a plant to a vertebrate. This transferred DNA included the viral origin of replication; the sequence conservation clearly indicates that it maintained the ability to replicate. In view of these properties, we conclude that the transferred DNA was a kind of virus and the transfer was a host-switch. We speculate that this host-switch occurred when a vertebrate was exposed to sap from an infected plant. All characterized caliciviruses infect vertebrates, suggesting that the host-switch happened first and that the recombination took place in a vertebrate. (+info)