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The HC-Pro cistron of Triticum mosaic virus is dispensable for systemic infection in wheat but is required for symptom phenotype and efficient genome amplification.

Virus Research 2023 November 25
Triticum mosaic virus (TriMV), the type species of the genus Poacevirus in the family Potyviridae, is an economically important wheat curl mite-transmitted wheat-infecting virus in the Great Plains region of the USA. In this study, the functional genomics of helper component-proteinase (HC-Pro) encoded by TriMV was examined using a reverse genetics approach. TriMV with complete deletion of HC-Pro cistron elicited systemic infection in wheat, indicating that HC-Pro cistron is dispensable for TriMV systemic infection. However, TriMV lacking HC-Pro caused delayed systemic infection with mild symptoms that resulted in little or no stunting of plants with a significant reduction in the accumulation of genomic RNA copies and coat protein (CP). Sequential deletion mutagenesis from the 5' end of HC-Pro cistron in the TriMV genome revealed that deletions within amino acids 3 to 25, except for amino acids 3 and 4, elicited mild symptoms with reduced accumulation of genomic RNA and CP. Surprisingly, TriMV with deletion of amino acids 3 to 50 or 3 to 125 in HC-Pro elicited severe symptoms with a substantial increase in genomic RNA copies but a drastic reduction in CP accumulation. Additionally, TriMV with heterologous HC-Pro from other potyvirids produced symptom phenotype and genomic RNA accumulation similar to that of TriMV without HC-Pro, suggesting that HC-Pros of other potyvirids were not effective in complementing TriMV in wheat. Our data indicate that HC-Pro is expendable for replication of TriMV but is required for efficient viral genomic RNA amplification and symptom development. The availability of TriMV with various deletions in the HC-Pro cistron will facilitate the examination of the requirement of HC-Pro cistron for wheat curl mite transmission.

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