United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Molecular Plant Pathology Laboratory, Beltsville, MD 20705, U.S.A.
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Accepted 25 May 2000.
Viroids—covalently closed, circular RNA molecules in the size range of 250 to 450 nucleotides—are the smallest known infectious agents and cause a number of diseases of crop plants. Viroids do not encode proteins and replicate within the nucleus without a helper virus. In many cases, viroid infection results in symptoms of stunting, epinasty, and vein clearing. In our study of the molecular basis of the response of tomato cv. Rutgers to infection by Potato spindle tuber viroid (PSTVd), we have identified a specific protein kinase gene, pkv, that is transcriptionally activated in plants infected with either the intermediate or severe strain of PSTVd, at a lower level in plants inoculated with a mild strain, and not detectable in mock-inoculated plants. A full-length copy of the gene encoding the 55-kDa PKV (protein kinase viroid)-induced protein has been isolated and sequence analysis revealed significant homologies to cyclic nucleotide-dependent protein kinases. Although the sequence motifs in the catalytic domain suggest that it is a serine/threonine protein kinase, the recombinant PKV protein autophosphorylates in vitro on serine and tyrosine residues, suggesting that it is a putative member of the class of dual-specificity protein kinases.
The American Phytopathological Society, 2000