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X-ray fiber diffraction data were obtained and helical pitch and symmetry were determined for seven members of the family Potyviridae, including representatives from the genera Potyvirus, Rymovirus, and Tritimovirus. The diffraction patterns are similar, as expected. There are, however, significant variations in the symmetries, as previously found among the flexible potexviruses, but not among the rigid tobamoviruses. Wheat streak mosaic virus, the only member of the genus Tritimovirus examined, displayed the largest deviations in diffraction data and helical parameters from the other viruses in the group.
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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.
Wheat streak mosaic virus is a Tritimovirus, a member of the Potyviridae family, which includes the very large Potyvirus genus. We have examined wheat streak mosaic virus by electron microscopy and fiber diffraction from partially oriented sols, and analyzed the results to estimate the symmetry and structural parameters of the viral helix. The virions have an apparent radius of 63 +/- 5 A. The viral helix has a pitch of 33.4 A +/- 0.6 A. There appear to be 6.9 subunits per turn of the helix, although we cannot completely eliminate values of 5.9 or 7.9 for this parameter.