The tobacco etch potyvirus (TEV) helper component-proteinase (HC-Pro, 460 amino acid residues) is a multifunctional protein involved in aphid-mediated transmission, genome amplification, polyprotein processing, and long-distance movement. To investigate the interrelationships between three of these functions, 25 alanine-scanning mutations affecting clusters of charged residues were introduced into the HC-Pro coding sequence. The resulting mutants were analyzed with respect to HC-Pro proteolytic activity in vitro, genome amplification in protoplasts, and long-distance movement in tobacco plants. Three classes of mutants were identified. Class I mutants (total of 17) were capable of genome amplification, long-distance movement, and HC-Pro proteolysis with efficiencies similar to parental virus. The class III mutant (total of 1) encoded a proteolytically debilitated HC-Pro and was replication-defective. Class II mutants (total of 7) encoded proteolytically active HC-Pro, but each exhibited a suppressed amplification phenotype that was characterized by a progressive shutoff during the course of infection in protoplasts. The class II mutants also exhibited defects in long-distance movement, accumulating to relative levels of 0 to 7.5% in noninoculated tissue. Wild-type HC-Pro supplied in trans was able to partially rescue the class II mutant amplification defects in protoplasts and long-distance movement defects in plants, although the extent of complementation of movement function varied for each mutant. Six of the seven class II mutations affected the central region of HC-Pro between residues 126 and 300, whereas only one affected the C-terminal proteolytic domain. These results indicate that the central region of HC-Pro is necessary for efficient genome amplification and long-distance movement, and that the one or more HC-Pro functions involved in these processes is at least partially trans-active. Additionally, the long-distance movement properties of a previously characterized HC-Pro-defective mutant (TEV-GUS/CCCE) were characterized further using grafted nontransgenic and HC-Pro-expressing transgenic plants. The results indicated that HC-Pro is required in both inoculated and noninoculated tissues to complement the TEV-GUS/CCCE movement defects.