The open reading frame 4 (ORF 4) gene product of barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) may act as a movement protein (MP) by assisting the transport of viral genomic RNA across the nuclear envelope (NE) of host plant cells. To investigate interactions between BYDV MP and the NE, wild-type and mutant open reading frame (ORF 4)-green fluorescent protein (GFP) fusion cistrons were expressed in insect cells. A fusion protein expressed by the wild-type ORF 4-GFP cistron associated with the NE and caused protrusions from its surface. The fusion protein expressed by the mutant ORF 4-GFP cistron lacked a putative amphiphilic alpha-helix at its N-terminus and although associating with the NE, showed decreased levels of protrusions. A peptide homologue of this putative alpha-helix induced an increase of 7 degrees C in the phase transition temperature of dimyrystoyl phosphatidylserine (DMPS) membranes, accompanied by a decrease in membrane fluidity, but exhibited no significant interaction with either dimyristoyl phosphatidylcholine (DMPC) or dimyristoyl phosphatidylethanolamine (DMPE) membranes. These results strongly support the view that BYDV MP may interact with the NE to help transport viral genomic RNA into the nuclear compartment. This function of BYDV MP appears to involve protrusions on the surface of the NE and may require the presence of an N-terminal amphiphilic alpha-helix, which is speculated to destabilize membranes, thereby assisting the entry of BYDV-GAV into the nuclear compartment.
Copyright 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.