Plant mitoviruses belong to Mitoviridae family and consist of positive single-stranded RNA genomes replicating exclusively in host mitochondria. We previously reported the biological characterization of a replicating plant mitovirus, designated Chenopodium quinoa mitovirus 1 (CqMV1), in some Chenopodium quinoa accessions. In this study, we analyzed the mitochondrial proteome from leaves of quinoa, infected and not infected by CqMV1. Furthermore, by protein-protein interaction and co-expression network models, we provided a system perspective of how CqMV1 affects mitochondrial functionality. We found that CqMV1 is associated with changes in mitochondrial protein expression in a mild but well-defined way. In quinoa-infected plants, we observed up-regulation of functional modules involved in amino acid catabolism, mitochondrial respiratory chain, proteolysis, folding/stress response and redox homeostasis. In this context, some proteins, including BCE2 (lipoamide acyltransferase component of branched-chain alpha-keto acid dehydrogenase complex), DELTA-OAT (ornithine aminotransferase) and GR-RBP2 (glycine-rich RNA-binding protein 2) were interesting because all up-regulated and network hubs in infected plants; together with other hubs, including CAT (catalase) and APX3 (L-ascorbate peroxidase 3), they play a role in stress response and redox homeostasis. These proteins could be related to the higher tolerance degree to drought we observed in CqMV1-infected plants. Although a specific causative link could not be established by our experimental approach at this stage, the results suggest a new mechanistic hypothesis that demands further in-depth functional studies.
Keywords: PPI; co-expression; mitochondrion; network; proteomics; quinoa; systems biology; virus.