Silencing of the host factor eIF(iso)4E gene confers plum pox virus resistance in plum

PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e50627. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0050627. Epub 2013 Jan 28.


Plum pox virus (PPV) causes the most economically-devastating viral disease in Prunus species. Unfortunately, few natural resistance genes are available for the control of PPV. Recessive resistance to some potyviruses is associated with mutations of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E (eIF4E) or its isoform eIF(iso)4E. In this study, we used an RNA silencing approach to manipulate the expression of eIF4E and eIF(iso)4E towards the development of PPV resistance in Prunus species. The eIF4E and eIF(iso)4E genes were cloned from plum (Prunus domestica L.). The sequence identity between plum eIF4E and eIF(iso)4E coding sequences is 60.4% at the nucleotide level and 52.1% at the amino acid level. Quantitative real-time RT-PCR analysis showed that these two genes have a similar expression pattern in different tissues. Transgenes allowing the production of hairpin RNAs of plum eIF4E or eIF(iso)4E were introduced into plum via Agrobacterium-mediated transformation. Gene expression analysis confirmed specific reduced expression of eIF4E or eIF(iso)4E in the transgenic lines and this was associated with the accumulation of siRNAs. Transgenic plants were challenged with PPV-D strain and resistance was evaluated by measuring the concentration of viral RNA. Eighty-two percent of the eIF(iso)4E silenced transgenic plants were resistant to PPV, while eIF4E silenced transgenic plants did not show PPV resistance. Physical interaction between PPV-VPg and plum eIF(iso)4E was confirmed. In contrast, no PPV-VPg/eIF4E interaction was observed. These results indicate that eIF(iso)4E is involved in PPV infection in plum, and that silencing of eIF(iso)4E expression can lead to PPV resistance in Prunus species.

MeSH terms

  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-4E / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Gene Silencing
  • Plant Diseases / genetics*
  • Plant Diseases / virology
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Plum Pox Virus / genetics*
  • Plum Pox Virus / pathogenicity
  • Prunus / genetics*
  • Prunus / growth & development
  • Prunus / virology


  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-4E

Grants and funding

The authors have no support or funding to report.