Institute of Molecular Plant Sciences, Gorlaeus Laboratories, Leiden University, P.O. Box 9502, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands
The movement protein (MP) and coat protein (CP) encoded by Alfalfa mosaic virus (AMV) RNA 3 are both required for virus transport. RNA 3 vectors that expressed nonfused green fluorescent protein (GFP), MP:GPF fusions, or GFP:CP fusions were used to study the functioning of mutant MP and CP in protoplasts and plants. C-terminal deletions of up to 21 amino acids did not interfere with the function of the CP in cell-to-cell movement, although some of these mutations interfered with virion assembly. Deletion of the N-terminal 11 or C-terminal 45 amino acids did not interfere with the ability of MP to assemble into tubular structures on the protoplast surface. Additionally, N- or C-terminal deletions disrupted tubule formation. A GFP:CP fusion was targeted specifically into tubules consisting of a wild-type MP. All MP deletion mutants that showed cell-to-cell and systemic movement in plants were able to form tubular structures on the surface of protoplasts. Brome mosaic virus (BMV) MP did not support AMV transport. When the C-terminal 48 amino acids were replaced by the C-terminal 44 amino acids of the AMV MP, however, the BMV/AMV chimeric protein permitted wild-type levels of AMV transport. Apparently, the C terminus of the AMV MP, although dispensable for cell-to-cell movement, confers specificity to the transport process.