Virology Department, Scottish Crop Research Institute, Invergowrie, Dundee DD2 5DA, Scotland, U.K.
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Accepted 13 August 1999.
The 3a movement protein of cucumber mosaic virus (CMV), fused to the jellyfish green fluorescent protein (3a-GFP) generated surface punctate aggregates as well as tubules protruding from infected tobacco and Nicotiana benthamiana protoplasts. Fluorescent tubules also appeared on the surface of protoplasts prepared from transgenic tobacco plants expressing 3a-GFP, indicating that the 3a protein is the only viral component required for the formation of the tubules. CMV with a mutation in the gene encoding the 3a protein, M8 CMV, could infect tobacco systemically, but tubules were not detected protruding from infected protoplasts when the mutated 3a protein was fused to the GFP [(M8)3a-GFP]. This indicates that the ability of the 3a protein to generate tubules in the surface of protoplasts is not a function required for the spread of CMV in tobacco. On the other hand, the (M8)3a-GFP did not traffic through plasmodesmata interconnecting tobacco epidermal cells, in contrast to the wild-type 3a-GFP. This suggests that there may be a correlation between the ability of the 3a protein to assemble tubules in protoplasts and its ability to promote movement within certain tissues.
© 1999 The American Phytopathological Society