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The 2b Protein of Cucumoviruses Has a Role in Promoting the Cell-to-cell Movement of Pseudorecombinant Viruses

March 2003 , Volume 16 , Number  3
Pages  261 - 267

Bu-Jun Shi , 1 , 2 Jane Miller , 3 Robert H. Symons , 1 and Peter Palukaitis 3

1Department of Plant Science, Waite Institute, Adelaide University, Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia; 2Department of Molecular Bioscience, Adelaide University, Adelaide, SA. 5005, Australia; 3Scottish Crop Research Institute, Invergowrie, Dundee, DD2 5DA, United Kingdom

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Accepted 4 December 2002.

Pseudorecombinant viruses (i.e., those containing a reas-sorted genome of closely related multipartite viruses) are often not as competitive as the parental viruses. The role of the 2b gene in hypervirulence and maintenance of a progressive infection was assessed in a pseudorecombinant virus formed between RNAs 1 plus 2 of Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) and RNA 3 of Tomato aspermy virus (TAV). The presence of RNA 3 of TAV was found to affect the level of RNA accumulation but not the level of virulence. By contrast, the 2b genes of both TAV and a hypervirulent strain of CMV (WAII-CMV) were found to affect the virulence of the pseudorecombinant viruses but not the levels of viral RNA accumulation. The 2b gene rather than the overlapping open reading frame encoding the C-terminal 41 amino acids of 2a protein of the corresponding virus was found to be essential for promoting infection of the pseudorecombinant viruses in planta. However, the 2b gene was not essential for replication of pseudorecombinant viruses containing CMV RNAs 1 plus 2 and TAV RNA 3. These results indicate that the 2b protein is involved in promoting the cell-to-cell movement of the pseudorecombinant viruses. These data also suggest the existence of specific interaction between the TAV 2b protein and either RNA 3 or its encoded proteins, which may be critical for promoting or maintaining infection or both.

© 2003 The American Phytopathological Society