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Maize Streak Virus Coat Protein Is Karyophyllic and Facilitates Nuclear Transport of Viral DNA

October 1999 , Volume 12 , Number  10
Pages  894 - 900

H. Liu , 1 M. I. Boulton , 1 C. L. Thomas , 1 D. A. M. Prior , 2 K. J. Oparka , 2 and J. W. Davies , 1

1Department of Virus Research, John Innes Centre, Colney Lane, Norwich NR4 7UH, U.K.; 2Scottish Crop Research Institute, Invergowrie, Dundee DD2 5DA, U.K.

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Accepted 7 June 1999.

Transport of maize streak virus (MSV) DNA into the nucleus of host cells is essential for virus replication and the presence of virus particles in the nuclei of infected cells implies that coat protein (CP) must enter the nucleus. To see if CP is imported into the nucleus in the absence of other viral gene products, the MSV CP gene was expressed in insect cells with a baculovirus vector system, and also in tobacco protoplasts with a cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) 35S promoter-driven transient gene expression vector. Immunofluorescent staining showed that the CP accumulated in the nuclei of both insect and tobacco cells. Mutagenesis of a potential nuclear localization signal in the CP resulted in cytoplasmic accumulation of the mutant protein. We have shown previously that the CP binds to single-stranded (ss) and double-stranded (ds) viral DNA. To investigate if CP might also be involved in viral DNA nuclear transport, Escherichia coli-expressed CP, together with TOTO-1-labeled viral ss or ds DNA, was microinjected into maize and tobacco epidermal cells. Both ss and ds DNA moved into the nucleus when co-injected with the CP but not with E. coli proteins alone. These results suggest that, in addition to entering the nucleus where it is required for encapsidation of the viral ss DNA, the MSV CP facilitates the rapid transport of viral (ss or ds) DNA into the nucleus.

© 1999 The American Phytopathological Society