Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) replicase and movement protein function synergistically in facilitating TMV spread by lateral diffusion in the plasmodesmal desmotubule of Nicotiana benthamiana

Mol Plant Microbe Interact. 2008 Mar;21(3):335-45. doi: 10.1094/MPMI-21-3-0335.


Virus spread through plasmodesmata (Pd) is mediated by virus-encoded movement proteins (MPs) that modify Pd structure and function. The MP of Tobacco mosaic virus ((TMV)MP) is an endoplasmic reticulum (ER) integral membrane protein that binds viral RNA (vRNA), forming a vRNA:MP:ER complex. It has been hypothesized that (TMV)MP causes Pd to dilate, thus potentiating a cytoskeletal mediated sliding of the vRNA:MP:ER complex through Pd; in the absence of MP, by contrast, the ER cannot move through Pd. An alternate model proposes that cell-to-cell spread takes place by diffusion of the MP:vRNA complex in the ER membranes which traverse Pd. To test these models, we measured the effect of (TMV)MP and replicase expression on cell-to-cell spread of several green fluorescent protein-fused probes: a soluble cytoplasmic protein, two ER lumen proteins, and two ER membrane-bound proteins. Our data support the diffusion model in which a complex that includes ER-embedded MP, vRNA, and other components diffuses in the ER membrane within the Pd driven by the concentration gradient between an infected cell and adjacent noninfected cells. The data also suggest that the virus replicase and MP function together in altering Pd conductivity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Diffusion
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / metabolism
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / virology
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Plant Viral Movement Proteins / metabolism*
  • Plasmodesmata / metabolism
  • Plasmodesmata / ultrastructure
  • Plasmodesmata / virology*
  • RNA Replicase / metabolism*
  • RNA, Viral / metabolism
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Tobacco / metabolism
  • Tobacco / virology*
  • Tobacco Mosaic Virus / enzymology
  • Tobacco Mosaic Virus / metabolism
  • Tobacco Mosaic Virus / pathogenicity*
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism
  • Virus Replication


  • Plant Viral Movement Proteins
  • RNA, Viral
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Viral Proteins
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • tobacco mosaic virus replicase
  • RNA Replicase