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We have used fiber diffraction, cryo-electron microscopy, and scanning transmission electron microscopy to confirm the symmetry of three potexviruses, potato virus X, papaya mosaic virus, and narcissus mosaic virus, and to determine their low-resolution structures. All three viruses have slightly less than nine subunits per turn of the viral helix. Our data strongly support the view that all potexviruses have approximately the same symmetry. The structures are dominated by a large domain at high radius in the virion, with a smaller domain, which includes the putative RNA-binding site, extending to low radius.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Flexible filamentous viruses make up a large fraction of the known plant viruses, but in comparison with those of other viruses, very little is known about their structures. We have used fiber diffraction, cryo-electron microscopy, and scanning transmission electron microscopy to determine the symmetry of a potyvirus, soybean mosaic virus; to confirm the symmetry of a potexvirus, potato virus X; and to determine the low-resolution structures of both viruses. We conclude that these viruses and, by implication, most or all flexible filamentous plant viruses share a common coat protein fold and helical symmetry, with slightly less than 9 subunits per helical turn.
Narcissus mosaic virus is a Potexvirus, a member of the Flexiviridae family of filamentous plant viruses. Fiber diffraction patterns from oriented sols of narcissus mosaic virus have been used to determine the symmetry and structural parameters of the viral helix. The virions have a radius of 55+/-5 A. The viral helix has a pitch of 34.45+/-0.5 A, with 7.8 subunits per turn of the helix. We conclude that all members of the Potexvirus genus have close to 8 subunits per helical turn.
Fiber diffraction patterns have been obtained from oriented sols of potato virus X. Orientation in the sols was greatly improved by a combination of centrifugation and exposure to very high magnetic fields. Diffraction patterns were also improved by using a very finely collimated synchrotron X-ray beam. The diffraction patterns show that there are 8.9 subunits in each turn of the viral helix and that intersecting sets of deep grooves mark the viral surface, with one set running almost longitudinally and the other following the simple viral helix.
To investigate the molecular role of the tobacco mosaic tobamovirus (TMV) coat protein (CP) in conferring cross-protection, a potato X potexvirus (PVX) vector (S. Chapman, Plant J. 2, 549-557, 1992) was used to systemically express a set of TMV mutant CPs in Nicotiana benthamiana prior to challenge inoculation with TMV. PVX-expressed wild-type TMV CP delayed TMV accumulation for up to 2 weeks compared to unprotected plants or plants preinfected with the unmodified PVX vector. Similar delays in TMV accumulation were obtained using TMV CPs that were deficient in virion formation but competent to assemble into helical aggregates. In contrast, TMV CPs that were incapable of helical aggregation or unable to bind viral RNA did not delay the accumulation of TMV. Furthermore, TMV CPs with enhanced intersubunit interactions that favor helical aggregation produced significantly greater delays in the accumulation of challenge TMV than obtained from the wild-type CP. Thus the capabilities of TMV CP to interact with viral RNA and self-associate in a helical fashion appear to be essential to its ability to confer protection. Taken together, these findings support a model for CP-mediated resistance in which the protecting CP recoats the challenge virus RNA as it disassembles.
Copyright 1998 Academic Press.