Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, Texas A&M University, College Station 77843-2132, U.S.A.
The 17-kDa capsid protein (CP) of satellite panicum mosaic virus (SPMV) contains a distinct N-terminal arginine-rich motif (N-ARM) which is required for SPMV virion assembly and the activity of SPMV CP to promote systemic accumulation of its cognate RNA. The present study indicates that SPMV CP also is involved in SPMV RNA accumulation in inoculated leaves and that this activity is also dependent on a functional N-ARM. In addition, deletions of a C-terminal region abolish virion assembly and impair SPMV RNA accumulation in both inoculated and systemic leaves. Unlike the N-ARM mutations, substantial deletions of the SPMV CP C-terminus do not affect SPMV RNA binding activity. Interestingly, SPMV CP also binds Panicum mosaic virus genomic RNA via N-ARM-mediated CP:RNA interactions. Mutations of the N-ARM and the C-terminal regions significantly reduce SPMV CP titers and result in symptom attenuation. In contrast, virions were not associated per se with symptom exacerbation or successful SPMV RNA accumulation. The results show the existence of a correlation between N- and C-termini-mediated contributions for CP accumulation, symptom induction, defective-interfering RNA accumulation, and temperature sensitivity of SPMV RNA maintenance. The data provide further evidence that SPMV CP has multiple roles during infection, which might involve the formation of nonvirion CP:RNA complexes whose stability is controlled in a biologically relevant manner by the N- and C-termini of the CP.