Department of Plant Microbiology and Pathology, University of Missouri, Columbia 65211, U.S.A.
Cauliflower mosaic virus strain W260 induces hypersensitive response (HR) in Nicotiana edwardsonii and systemic cell death in N. clevelandii. In contrast, the D4 strain of Cauliflower mosaic virus evades the host defenses in Nicotiana species; it induces chlorotic primary lesions and a systemic mosaic in both hosts. Previous studies with chimeric viruses had indicated that gene VI of W260 was responsible for elicitation of HR or cell death. To prove conclusively that W260 gene VI is responsible, we inserted gene VI of W260 and D4 into the Agrobacterium tumefaciens binary vector pKYLX7. Agroinfiltration of these constructs into the leaves of N. edwardsonii and N. clevelandii revealed that gene VI of W260 elicited HR in N. edwardsonii 4 to 5 days after infiltration and cell death in N. clevelandii approximately 9 to 12 days after infiltration. In contrast, gene VI of D4 did not elicit HR or cell death in either Nicotiana species. A frameshift mutation introduced into gene VI of W260 abolished its ability to elicit HR or cell death in both Nicotiana species, demonstrating that the elicitor is the gene VI protein.