Department of Botany, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8502, Japan
Cell-to-cell movement of a plant virus requires expression of the movement protein (MP). It has not been fully elucidated, however, how the MP functions in primary infected cells. With the use of a microprojectile bombardment-mediated DNA infection system for Tomato mosaic virus (ToMV), we found that the cotransfected ToMV MP gene exerts its effects in the initially infected cells and in their surrounding cells to achieve multicellular spread of movement-defective ToMV. Five other tobamoviral MPs examined also transcomplemented the movement-defective phenotype of ToMV, but the Cucumber mosaic virus 3a MP did not. Together with the cell-to-cell movement of the mutant virus, a fusion between the MP and an enhanced green fluorescent protein variant (EGFP) expressed in trans was distributed multicellularly and localized primarily in plasmodesmata between infected cells. In contrast, in noninfected sites the MP-EGFP fusion accumulated predominantly inside the bombarded cells as irregularly shaped aggregates, and only a minute amount of the fusion was found in plasmodesmata. Thus, the behavior of ToMV MP is greatly modulated in the presence of a replicating virus and it is highly likely that the MP spreads in the infection sites, coordinating with the cell-to-cell movement of the viral genome.