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Nat Cell Biol. 2000 Nov;2(11):826-32.

Function of microtubules in intercellular transport of plant virus RNA.

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Friedrich Miescher-Institute, Maulbeerstrasse 66, CH-4058 Basel, Switzerland.


Cell-to-cell progression of tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) infection in plants depends on virus-encoded movement protein (MP). Here we show that a conserved sequence motif in tobamovirus MPs shares similarity with a region in tubulins that is proposed to mediate lateral contacts between microtubule protofilaments. Point mutations in this motif confer temperature sensitivity to microtubule association and viral-RNA intercellular-transport functions of the protein, indicating that MP-interacting microtubules are functionally involved in the transport of vRNA to plasmodesmata. Moreover, we show that MP interacts with microtubule-nucleation sites. Together, our results indicate that MP may mimic tubulin assembly surfaces to propel vRNA transport by a dynamic process that is driven by microtubule polymerization.

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