VPg of Potato Virus Y and Potato Cap-Binding eIF4E Factors: Selective Interaction and Its Supposed Mechanism

Biochemistry (Mosc). 2021 Sep;86(9):1128-1138. doi: 10.1134/S000629792109008X.


Potato virus Y (PVY) is one of the most common and harmful plant viruses. Translation of viral RNA starts with the interaction between the plant cap-binding translation initiation factors eIF4E and viral genome-linked protein (VPg) covalently attached to the viral RNA. Disruption of this interaction is one of the natural mechanisms of plant resistance to PVY. The multigene eIF4E family in the potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) genome contains genes for the translation initiation factors eIF4E1, eIF4E2, and eIF(iso)4E. However, which of these factors can be recruited by the PVY, as well as the mechanism of this interaction, remain obscure. Here, we showed that the most common VPg variant from the PVY strain NTN interacts with eIF4E1 and eIF4E2, but not with eIF(iso)4E. Based on the VPg, eIF4E1, and eIF4E2 models and data on the natural polymorphism of VPg amino acid sequence, we suggested that the key role in the recognition of potato cap-binding factors belongs to the R104 residue of VPg. To verify this hypothesis, we created VPg mutants with substitutions at position 104 and examined their ability to interact with potato eIF4E factors. The obtained data were used to build the theoretical model of the VPg-eIF4E2 complex that differs significantly from the earlier models of VPg complexes with eIF4E proteins, but is in a good agreement with the current biochemical data.

Keywords: VPg; eIF4E; potato virus Y; translation initiation.

MeSH terms

  • Binding Sites
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-4E / chemistry
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-4E / metabolism*
  • Hydrogen Bonding
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Plant Proteins / chemistry
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism*
  • Potyvirus / metabolism*
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Isoforms / chemistry
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Solanum tuberosum / metabolism
  • Two-Hybrid System Techniques
  • Viral Proteins / chemistry
  • Viral Proteins / genetics
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism*


  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-4E
  • Plant Proteins
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Viral Proteins