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trans-Dominant Inhibition of Geminiviral DNA Replication by Bean Golden Mosaic Geminivirus rep Gene Mutants

June 1999 , Volume 89 , Number  6
Pages  480 - 486

Stephen F. Hanson and Douglas P. Maxwell

Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin, Madison 53706

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Accepted for publication 4 February 1999.

Geminiviruses are a group of single-stranded DNA viruses that cause major losses on a number of important crops throughout the world. Bean golden mosaic virus (BGMV) is a typical bipartite, whitefly-transmitted geminivirus that causes a severe disease on beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) in the Western Hemisphere. The lack of natural resistance to geminiviruses has led to attempts to engineer resistance, particularly through the use of pathogen-derived resistance strategies. The rep gene contains several conserved domains including nucleoside triphosphate (NTP)-binding and DNA-nicking domains and is the only geminiviral gene necessary for replication. Previous analysis by our group and others has demonstrated that the NTP-binding and DNA-nicking domains are necessary for geminiviral DNA replication. The ability of the rep gene and rep gene mutants to interfere with geminiviral DNA replication, when expressed in trans, was examined using a transient assay in a tobacco suspension cell culture system. Wild-type (wt) and mutant rep genes were cloned into plasmids under the control of the cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter for in planta expression and coinoculated into tobacco cells with infectious clones of various geminiviruses. The wt rep gene from BGMV-GA was able to support replication of BGMV-GA DNA-B. Several different rep gene mutants, with function-abolishing mutations in the NTP-binding or DNA-nicking domains, were potent trans-dominant inhibitors of geminiviral DNA replication.

The American Phytopathological Society, 1999