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Expression of the Potato Leafroll Virus ORF0 Induces Viral-Disease-like Symptoms in Transgenic Potato Plants

March 1997 , Volume 10 , Number  2
Pages  153 - 159

Frank van der Wilk , 1 Petra Houterman , 1 Jos Molthoff , 1 Fabienne Hans , 1 , 2 Ben Dekker , 3 Johannes van den Heuvel , 1 Harm Huttinga 1 , and Rob Goldbach 2

1DLO Research Institute for Plant Protection (IPO-DLO), P.O. Box 9060, 6700 GW Wageningen, The Netherlands; 2Wageningen Agricultural University, Department of Virology, P.O. Box 8045, 6700 EM Wageningen, The Netherlands; 3MOGEN International NV, Einsteinweg 97, 2333 CB Leiden, The Netherlands

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Accepted 4 December 1996.

The role of the open reading frame 0 (ORF0) of luteoviruses in the viral infection cycle has not been resolved, although the translation product (p28) of this ORF has been suggested to play a role in host recognition. To investigate the function of the potato leafroll luteovirus (PLRV) p28 protein, transgenic potato plants were produced containing the ORF0. In the lines in which the ORF0 transcripts could be detected by Northern (RNA) analysis, the plants displayed an altered phenotype resembling virus-infected plants. A positive correlation was observed between levels of accumulation of the transgenic transcripts and severity of the phenotypic aberrations observed. In contrast, potato plants transformed with a modified, untranslatable ORF0 sequence were phenotypically indistinguishable from wild-type control plants. These results suggest that the p28 protein is involved in viral symptom expression. Southern blot analysis showed that the transgenic plants that accumulated low levels of ORF0 transcripts detectable only by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, contained methylated ORF0 DNA sequences, indicating down-regulation of the transgene provoked by the putatively unfavorable effects p28 causes in the plant cell.

© 1997 The American Phytopathological Society