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The eukaryotic translation initiation factor eIF4E plays a key role in plant-potyvirus interactions. eIF4E belongs to a small multigenic family and three genes, eIF4E1, eIF4E2 and eIF(iso)4E, have been identified in tomato. It has been demonstrated that eIF4E-mediated natural recessive resistances against potyviruses result from non-synonymous mutations in an eIF4E protein, which impair its direct interaction with the potyviral protein VPg. In tomato, the role of eIF4E proteins in potyvirus resistance is still unclear because natural or induced mutations in eIF4E1 confer only a narrow resistance spectrum against potyviruses. This contrasts with the broad spectrum resistance identified in the natural diversity of tomato. These results suggest that more than one eIF4E protein form is involved in the observed broad spectrum resistance. To gain insight into the respective contribution of each eIF4E protein in tomato-potyvirus interactions, two tomato lines silenced for both eIF4E1 and eIF4E2 (RNAi-4E) and two lines silenced for eIF(iso)4E (RNAi-iso4E) were obtained and characterized. RNAi-4E lines are slightly impaired in their growth and fertility, whereas no obvious growth defects were observed in RNAi-iso4E lines. The F1 hybrid between RNAi-4E and RNAi-iso4E lines presented a pronounced semi-dwarf phenotype. Interestingly, the RNAi-4E lines silenced for both eIF4E1 and eIF4E2 showed broad spectrum resistance to potyviruses while the RNAi-iso4E lines were fully susceptible to potyviruses. Yeast two-hybrid interaction assays between the three eIF4E proteins and a set of viral VPgs identified two types of VPgs: those that interacted only with eIF4E1 and those that interacted with either eIF4E1 or with eIF4E2. These experiments provide evidence for the involvement of both eIF4E1 and eIF4E2 in broad spectrum resistance of tomato against potyviruses and suggest a role for eIF4E2 in tomato-potyvirus interactions.


Marianne Mazier, Fabrice Flamain, Maryse Nicolaï, Verane Sarnette, Carole Caranta. Knock-down of both eIF4E1 and eIF4E2 genes confers broad-spectrum resistance against potyviruses in tomato. PloS one. 2011;6(12):e29595

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PMID: 22242134

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