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J Virol. 2009 Apr;83(8):3540-8. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02346-08. Epub 2009 Feb 4.

A cis element within flowering locus T mRNA determines its mobility and facilitates trafficking of heterologous viral RNA.

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Warwick HRI, University of Warwick, Wellesbourne, Warwick CV35 9EF, United Kingdom.


The Arabidopsis flowering locus T (FT) gene encodes the mobile florigen essential for floral induction. While movement of the FT protein has been shown to occur within plants, systemic spread of FT mRNA remains to be unequivocally demonstrated. Utilizing novel RNA mobility assay vectors based on two distinct movement-defective viruses, Potato virus X and Turnip crinkle virus, and an agroinfiltration assay, we demonstrate that nontranslatable FT mRNA, independent of the FT protein, moves throughout Nicotiana benthamiana and mutant Arabidopsis plants and promotes systemic trafficking of viral and green fluorescence protein RNAs. Viral ectopic expression of FT induced flowering in the short-day N. tabacum Maryland Mammoth tobacco under long-day conditions. Recombinant Potato virus X bearing FT RNA spread and established systemic infection more quickly than the parental virus. The cis-acting element essential for RNA movement was mapped to the nucleotides 1 to 102 of the FT mRNA coding sequence. These data demonstrate that a plant self-mobile RNA molecule can mediate long-distance trafficking of heterologous RNAs and raise the possibility that FT RNA, along with the FT protein, may be involved in the spread of the floral stimulus throughout the plant.

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