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Mutation of a Short Variable Region in HCpro Protein of Potato virus A Affects Interactions with a Microtubule-Associated Protein and Induces Necrotic Responses in Tobacco

July 2013 , Volume 26 , Number  7
Pages  721 - 733

Tuuli Haikonen , Minna-Liisa Rajamäki , Yan-Ping Tian , and Jari P. T. Valkonen

Department of Agricultural Sciences, P.O. Box 27, FI-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland


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Accepted 5 March 2013.

Helper component proteinase (HCpro) is a multifunctional protein of potyviruses (genus Potyvirus). HCpro of Potato virus A (PVA) interacts with the microtubule-associated protein HIP2 in host cells, and depletion of HIP2 reduces virus accumulation. This study shows that HCpro of Potato virus Y and Tobacco etch virus also interact with HIP2. The C-proximal portion of PVA HCpro determines the interaction with HIP2 and was found to contain a stretch of six residues comprising a highly variable region (HVR) in potyviruses. Mutations in HVR reduced PVA accumulation in tobacco plants and induced necrotic symptoms novel to PVA. Microarray and quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction analyses revealed induction of many defense-related genes including ethylene- and jasmonic acid–inducible pathways in systemically infected leaves at necrosis onset. Salicylic acid–mediated signaling was dispensable for the response. Genes related to microtubule functions were down-regulated. Structural modeling of HCpro suggested that all mutations in HVR caused conformational changes in adjacent regions containing functionally important motifs conserved in potyviruses. Those mutations, which also caused conformational changes in HVR, led to the greatest reduction of fitness. Our results implicate HVR in the regulation of HCpro conformation and virus-host interactions and suggest that mutation of HVR induces host defense.



© 2013 The American Phytopathological Society