National Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering, Jhang Road, Faisalabad, Pakistan
The hypersensitive response (HR) is a common feature of plant disease resistance reactions and a type of programmed cell death (PCD). Many pathogens are able to modulate pathways involved in cell death. In contrast to animal viruses, inhibitors of PCD activity have not been identified for plant-infecting viruses. Previously, we have reported that the nuclear shuttle protein (NSP) of Tomato leaf curl New Delhi virus (ToLCNDV) induces an HR in Nicotiana tabacum and Lycopersicon esculentum plants when expressed under the control of the Cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter. However, HR is not evident in plants infected with ToLCNDV, suggesting that the virus encodes a factor (or factors) that counters this response. Analysis of all ToLCNDV-encoded genes pinpointed the transcriptional activator protein (TrAP) as the factor mediating the anti-HR effect. Deletion mutagenesis showed the central region of TrAP, containing a zinc finger domain and nuclear localization signal, to be important in inhibiting the HR. These results demonstrate that TrAP counters HR-induced cell death, the first such activity identified for a plant-infecting virus.