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Molecular characterization of potato leafroll luteovirus and development of genetically engineered resistance Kawchuk, Lawrence Michael


Complementary DNA (cDNA) clones representing approximately 5800 nucleotides of potato leafroll virus (PLRV) genomic RNA were generated, restriction-mapped, and partially sequenced. Within one of the cDNA clones an open reading frame (ORF) that could encode a 23 kDa protein was identified and further characterized. Comparison of the deduced amino acid sequence with the coat protein amino acid sequence of the PAV strain of barley yellow dwarf luteovirus (BYDV-PAV) showed significant similarity. This observation together with its size and internal location within the genome suggested that this gene encoded the PLRV coat protein. Other similarities were observed between PLRV and BYDV sequences in this region of their genomes, including a 17 kDa ORF within the ORF encoding the 23 kDa coat protein, and termination of the latter with an amber codon which is immediately followed by a large ORF in the same reading frame. Three PLRV coat protein gene sequences were used to transform tobacco and the potato cultivars 'Desiree' and 'Russet Burbank' via Agrobacterium tumefaciens mediated gene transfers. One construct possessed 12 nucleotides of the untranslated leader sequence 5' to the putative coat protein gene start codon. The other construct, which was also inserted in the reverse orientation to produce negative-sense RNA, had 192 nucleotides from this leader sequence. When these sequences were introduced as chimaeric genes under the control of a duplicated cauliflower mosaic virus 35S (CaMV) promoter, transcription levels were high. Both positive-sense transcripts produced potato leafroll coat protein which accumulated to maximum levels of approximately 0.5% and 0.01% of total leaf protein in tobacco and potato, respectively. Results show that significant levels of inoculum concentration-independent sustained resistance were obtained with each construct, resulting in PLRV titres as low as 1% of the level observed in untransformed plants, as determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. Virus transmission from PLRV-inoculated transgenic 'Russet Burbank' was reduced substantially and was correlated with virus titre. The pattern and level of protection were the same for constructs producing positive- and negative-sense RNA, suggesting a similar mechanism of resistance. Virus levels were negatively correlated to transcript levels within the transgenic plants. This resistance will have practical applications for the control, of PLRV. Elucidation of the mechanism of resistance may also help understand the mechanisms of virus infection.

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