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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Molecular characterization of potato virus S and genetic engineering of virus resistant plants MacKenzie, Donald J.


The sequence of 3553 nucleotides corresponding to the 3'-terminal region of potato virus S (PVS) has been determined from cloned cDNA. The sequence obtained contains six open reading frames with the potential to encode proteins of Mr 10,734, Mr 32,515, Mr 7,222, Mr 11,802, Mr 25,092 and at least Mr 41,052. The amino acid sequence of the 33K ORF has been confirmed to be that of the viral coat protein gene. The nucleotide sequence of this ORF was obtained from expression plasmids which were isolated by binding with a specific monoclonal antibody to PVS, and the expression of coat protein fusion products was verified by Western blots of bacterial cell lysates. The deduced amino acid sequence of a 70 amino acid portion from the central region of the PVS coat protein was 59% identical to the analogous region of potato virus X. In addition, the 7K, 12K and 25K ORF's displayed significant sequence homology with similar sized ORF's from a number of potexviruses. The partial 41K ORF was homologous with the C-terminal portion of the viral replicase proteins of potato virus X and white clover mosaic virus. While the biological functions of the 12K and 25K non-structural proteins coded for by PVS and members of the potexvirus group remain unknown, the 12K protein displays a hydropathicity profile consistent with a membrane associated protein and the 25K protein contains a conserved sequence motif found in a number of nucleoside triphosphate binding proteins. Members of the carlavirus group are distinguished from the potexviruses by the presence of a small [11K (PVS, potato virus M) - 16K (lily symptomless virus)] 3' terminal ORF which appears to contain a sequence motif similar to the 'zinc-finger' domain found in many nucleic acid binding proteins. The coat protein gene from potato virus S (PVS) was introduced into Nicotiana debneyii tobacco as well as a commercial potato cultivar, 'Russet Burbank', by leaf disc transformation using Agrobacterium tumefaciens. Transgenic plants expressing the viral coat protein were highly resistant to subsequent infection following mechanical inoculation with the Andean or ME strains of PVS as indicated by a lack of accumulation of virus in the upper leaves. The coat protein mediated protection afforded by these transgenic plants was sufficient to prevent the accumulation of virus in the tissues of non-transformed 'Russet Burbank' shoots which had been grafted onto transgenic plants inoculated with PVS, and in reciprocal grafts, transgenic shoots accumulated less than 2% (6 weeks after grafting) of the concentration of PVS found in non-transformed shoots similarly grafted onto plants systemically infected with PVS. These transgenic plants also displayed a measure of resistance to inoculation with a related carlavirus from potato, potato virus M. In agreement with previous reports for plants expressing PVX coat protein, plants expressing PVS coat protein were also protected from inoculation with PVS RNA. These results provide further evidence that coat protein mediated protection for these two groups of viruses, which share similar genome organizations, may involve inhibition of some early event in infection, other than, or in addition to, virus uncoating. Specific monoclonal antibodies were prepared against a C-terminal derived 18 kDa portion of the 25K protein of PVS expressed as an in-frame chimeric fusion protein with the glutathione S-transferase gene. The in vivo expression of this non-structural protein in virus infected tissue, as well as tissue from transgenic tobacco (var Xanthi-nc) engineered to contain the entire 25K gene, was verified by Western immunoblot labelling.

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