Replication-independent long-distance trafficking by viral RNAs in Nicotiana benthamiana

Plant Cell. 2007 Apr;19(4):1179-91. doi: 10.1105/tpc.107.050088. Epub 2007 Apr 6.


Viruses with separately encapsidated genomes could have their genomes introduced into different leaves of a plant, thus necessitating long-distance trafficking of the viral RNAs for successful infection. To examine this possibility, individual or combinations of genome segments from the tripartite Brome mosaic virus (BMV) were transiently expressed in leaves of Nicotiana benthamiana plants using engineered Agrobacterium tumefaciens. BMV RNA3 was found to traffic from the initial site of expression to other leaves of the plant, as detected by RNA gel blot analyses and also by the expression of an endoplasmic reticulum-targeted green fluorescent protein. When RNA3 trafficked into leaves containing the BMV replication enzymes, RNA replication, transcription, and virion production were observed. RNA3 trafficking occurred even when it did not encode the movement or capsid proteins. However, coexpression of the movement protein increased the trafficking of BMV RNAs. BMV RNA1 and RNA2 could also traffic throughout the plant, but less efficiently than RNA3. All three BMV RNAs trafficked bidirectionally to sink leaves near the apical meristem as well as to the source leaves at the bottom of the stem, suggesting that trafficking used the phloem. These results demonstrate that BMV RNAs can use a replication-independent mechanism to traffic in N. benthamiana.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Genome, Viral
  • Plant Diseases / virology
  • Plant Leaves / virology
  • Plant Viruses / genetics*
  • RNA, Viral / genetics*
  • Rhizobium / genetics*
  • Tobacco / growth & development
  • Tobacco / virology*
  • Viral Proteins / genetics


  • RNA, Viral
  • Viral Proteins