Replication-independent expression of genome components and capsid protein of brome mosaic virus in planta: a functional role for viral replicase in RNA packaging

Virology. 2005 Jul 20;338(1):96-111. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2005.05.013.


To begin elucidation of the relationship between Brome mosaic virus (BMV) replication and encapsidation, we used a T-DNA-based Agrobacterium-mediated transient expression (agroinfiltration) system in Nicotiana benthamiana leaves to express either individual or desired pairs of the three genomic RNAs. The packaging competence of these RNAs into virions formed by the transiently expressed coat protein (CP) was analyzed. We found that in the absence of a functional replicase, assembled virions contained non-replicating viral RNAs (RNA1 or RNA2 or RNA3 or RNA1 + RNA3 or RNA2 + RNA3) as well as cellular RNAs. By contrast, virions assembled in the presence of a functional replicase contained only viral RNAs. To further elucidate the specificity exhibited by the functional viral replicase in RNA packaging, replication-defective RNA1 and RNA2 were constructed by deleting the 3' tRNA-like structure (3' TLS). Co-expression of TLS-less RNA1 and RNA2 with wt RNA3 resulted in efficient synthesis of subgenomic RNA4. Virions recovered from leaves co-expressing TLS-less RNA1 and RNA2 and either CP mRNA or wt RNA3 exclusively contained viral RNAs. These results demonstrated that packaging of BMV genomic RNAs is not replication dependent whereas expression of a functional viral replicase plays an active role in increasing specificity of RNA packaging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Bromovirus / genetics*
  • Bromovirus / physiology*
  • Capsid Proteins / genetics*
  • Capsid Proteins / metabolism
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Gene Expression
  • Genome, Viral
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • RNA, Viral / biosynthesis
  • RNA, Viral / genetics
  • RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase / physiology*
  • Rhizobium / genetics
  • Tobacco / virology
  • Virus Assembly
  • Virus Replication


  • Capsid Proteins
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Viral
  • T-DNA
  • RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase