Specific sequences of the tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) RNA-dependent RNA-polymerase (RdRp) gene were investigated for their ability to confer cross-protection. Nine overlapping segments ranging from 713 to 1070 nucleotides in length and covering the methyltransferase, helicase, and polymerase (POL) domains of the TMV RdRp open reading frame were systemically expressed in Nicotiana benthamiana using a potato X virus (PVX) vector [Chapman, S., Kavanagh, T., and Baulcombe, D. C. (1992). Plant J., 1, 549-557]. PVX-infected plants were subsequently challenge inoculated with 10 microg of wild-type TMV and monitored for TMV accumulation. Mock inoculated plants and plants preinfected with the unmodified PVX vector rapidly accumulated high levels of challenge virus. In contrast, plants preinfected with PVX vectors expressing segments of the TMV RdRp open reading frame displayed either high or low levels of protection. High protection levels were observed for PVX constructs expressing segments of the TMV POL domain, whereas low protection levels were observed for PVX constructs expressing segments covering the methyltransferase and helicase domains. Frameshift mutations that blocked protein expression from RdRp segments disrupted only the high levels of protection derived from POL segments and not the low levels derived from the other segments. However, all RdRp segments conferred similarly high levels of protection against a TMV construct with restricted local movement. Thus both RNA and protein sequences in conjunction with the speed of the infecting challenge virus can affect the protection derived from the TMV RdRp gene.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.