Function of microtubules in intercellular transport of plant virus RNA

Nat Cell Biol. 2000 Nov;2(11):826-32. doi: 10.1038/35041072.


Cell-to-cell progression of tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) infection in plants depends on virus-encoded movement protein (MP). Here we show that a conserved sequence motif in tobamovirus MPs shares similarity with a region in tubulins that is proposed to mediate lateral contacts between microtubule protofilaments. Point mutations in this motif confer temperature sensitivity to microtubule association and viral-RNA intercellular-transport functions of the protein, indicating that MP-interacting microtubules are functionally involved in the transport of vRNA to plasmodesmata. Moreover, we show that MP interacts with microtubule-nucleation sites. Together, our results indicate that MP may mimic tubulin assembly surfaces to propel vRNA transport by a dynamic process that is driven by microtubule polymerization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Amino Acid Substitution
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • COS Cells
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Conserved Sequence
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Intracellular Fluid / metabolism
  • Luminescent Proteins / genetics
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Microtubules / metabolism
  • Microtubules / physiology*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Plant Viral Movement Proteins
  • Plants, Toxic
  • RNA, Viral / metabolism*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Temperature
  • Tobacco
  • Tobacco Mosaic Virus / genetics*
  • Tubulin / genetics
  • Viral Proteins / genetics
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism*


  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Plant Viral Movement Proteins
  • RNA, Viral
  • Tubulin
  • Viral Proteins
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins