Specific binding between the coat protein (CP) and the helper component (HC) of the tobacco vein mottling potyvirus (TVMV) was characterized using a protein blotting-overlay protocol. In this in vitro assay, HC interacted with either virions or CP monomers originating from the aphid-transmissible TVMV-AT but not from the non-aphid-transmissible TVMV-NAT. There was a strong correlation between the aphid transmissibility of a series of TVMV variants having mutations in the DAG motif of the CP and their ability to bind HC. Expression of TVMV CP derivatives in bacteria allowed a precise determination of the minimum domain mediating HC binding. This domain is composed of seven amino acids, including the DAG motif (DTVDAGK), located in the N-terminus of the TVMV CP at amino acid positions 2 to 8.