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Virology. 2002 Aug 15;300(1):118-24.

Immunogold localization of tobravirus 2b nematode transmission helper protein associated with virus particles.

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Scottish Crop Research Institute, Invergowrie, Dundee, DD2 5DA, United Kingdom.


Transmission of the tobraviruses Tobacco rattle virus (TRV) and Pea early-browning virus (PEBV) by trichodorid vector nematodes requires the viral coat protein (CP) and the 2b protein, a nonstructural protein encoded by RNA2, the smaller of the two viral genomic RNAs. It is hypothesized that the 2b protein functions by interacting with a small, flexible domain located at the C-terminus of the CP, forming a bridge between the virus particle and the internal surface of the vector nematode feeding apparatus. Antibodies specific for the 2b protein of PEBV or TRV did not bind to virus particles that were adsorbed to electron microscope grids and were not able to trap virus particles from extracts of infected plants. However, electron microscopy of thin sections of plants infected with PEBV probed with 2b-specific antibodies which were further gold-labeled showed that the 2b protein localizes exclusively to virus particles. Similarly, immunogold localization studies showed that the 2b protein of TRV isolate PaY4 is associated only with TRV PaY4 virus particles. When a recombinant TRV encoding the PaY4 2b protein and the CP from TRV isolate PpK20 was examined, the 2b protein could not be detected by Western blotting and in IGL experiments was not associated with virus particles. These results suggest that in the absence of a specific interaction between compatible CP and 2b proteins, the 2b protein does not accumulate.

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