Ectopic expression of the p23 silencing suppressor of Citrus tristeza virus differentially modifies viral accumulation and tropism in two transgenic woody hosts
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AuthorFagoaga, Carmen; Pensabene-Bellavia, Giovanni; Moreno, Pedro; Navarro, Luis; Flores, Ricardo; Pena, Leandro
Cita bibliográficaFagoaga, C., Pensabene-Bellavia, Giovanni, Moreno, P., Navarro, L., Flores, R., Pena, L. (2011). Ectopic expression of the p23 silencing suppressor of Citrus tristeza virus differentially modifies viral accumulation and tropism in two transgenic woody hosts. Molecular Plant Pathology, 12(9), 898-910.
Citrus tristeza virus (CTV), a phloem-restricted closterovirus infecting citrus, encodes three different silencing suppressors (p25, p20 and p23), one of which (p23) is a pathogenicity determinant that induces aberrations resembling CTV symptoms when expressed ectopically in transgenic citrus hosts. In this article, the effect of p23 ectopic expression on virus infection was examined in sweet orange (SwO), a highly susceptible host, and sour orange (SO), which severely restricts CTV cell-to-cell movement. Transgenic plants of both species ectopically expressing p23, or transformed with an empty vector, were graft inoculated with the mild CTV isolate T385 or with CTV-BC1/GFP, a clonal strain derived from the severe isolate T36 carrying the gene for the green fluorescent protein (GFP). CTV distribution in infected tissues was assessed by direct tissue blot immunoassay and fluorescence emission, and virus accumulation was estimated by quantitative real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. CTV accumulation in p23-expressing and control SwO plants was similar, whereas the viral load in transgenic SO expressing p23 was 10-10(5) times higher than in the cognate control plants. Although few infection foci composed of a single cell were observed in the phloem of CTV-infected control SO, the number of foci in p23-expressing plants was higher and usually comprised two to six cells, indicating viral cell-to-cell movement. CTV was detected in mesophyll protoplasts and cells from infected SO and SwO expressing p23, but not in similar protoplasts and cells from infected control plants. Our results show that the ectopic expression of p23 enables CTV to escape from the phloem and, in addition, facilitates systemic infection of the resistant SO host. This is the first report of a viral-encoded protein that enhances virus accumulation and distribution in woody hosts.