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Coat proteins (CPs) play critical roles in potyvirus cell-to-cell movement. However, the underlying mechanism controlling them remains unclear. Here, we show that substitutions of alanine, glutamic acid, or lysine for the conserved residue tryptophan at position 122 (W122 ) in tobacco vein banding mosaic virus (TVBMV) CP abolished virus cell-to-cell movement in Nicotiana benthamiana plants. In agroinfiltrated N. benthamiana leaf patches, both the CP and RNA accumulation levels of three W122 mutant viruses were significantly reduced compared with those of wild-type TVBMV, and CP accumulated to a low level similar to that of a replication-deficient mutant. The results of polyprotein transient expression experiments indicated that CP instability was responsible for the significantly low CP accumulation levels of the three W122 mutant viruses. The substitution of W122 did not affect CP plasmodesmata localization or virus particle formation; however, the substitution significantly reduced the number of virus particles. The wild-type TVBMV CP could complement the reduced replication and abolished cell-to-cell movement of the mutant viruses. When the codon for W122 was mutated to that for a different aromatic residue, phenylalanine or tyrosine, the resultant mutant viruses moved systemically and accumulated up to 80% of the wild-type TVBMV level. Similar results were obtained for the corresponding amino acids of W122 in the watermelon mosaic virus and potato virus Y CPs. Therefore, we conclude that the aromatic ring in W122 in the core domain of the potyviral CP is critical for cell-to-cell movement through the effects on CP stability and viral replication. © 2020 The Authors. Molecular Plant Pathology published by British Society for Plant Pathology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Zhi-Yong Yan, De-Jie Cheng, Ling-Zhi Liu, Chao Geng, Yan-Ping Tian, Xiang-Dong Li, Jari P T Valkonen. The conserved aromatic residue W122 is a determinant of potyviral coat protein stability, replication, and cell-to-cell movement in plants. Molecular plant pathology. 2021 Feb;22(2):189-203

PMID: 33245804

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