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Virology. 1998 Jul 5;246(2):221-31.

Characterization of cucumber mosaic virus. V. Cell-to-cell movement requires capsid protein but not virions.

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Department of Plant Pathology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.


To ascertain the importance of amino-terminal proximal capsid protein (CP) sequences in cel-to-cell movement, virion formation, and stabilization, two CP mutants of cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) were generated by deletion of sequences encoding CP amino acids 15-40 (delta Sal-Nru) or 26-40 (delta Sac-Nru). Wildtype CMV and CMV containing delta Sac-Nru could infect systemically four host species, although symptoms induced by the two viruses usually were different CMV containing delta Sal-Nru could only infect Nicotiana benthamiana and N. clevelandii systemically, but only slowly, suggesting phloem-independent long-distance movement. A variant mutant designated delta Sal-Nru* could systemically infect N. tabacum as well as the above two Nicotiana species, rapidly, but could not systemically infect Cucurbita pepo. Virus particles could not be detected in plants infected by delta Sal-Nru, while delta Sal-Nru* and delta Sac-Nru formed particles of lower stabilities than for wildtype virus. The CPs of delta Sal-Nru and delta Sal-Nru* could bind RNA in vitro, although less strongly than delta Sac-Nru or wildtype CMV. These data indicate that amino-terminal proximal sequences of the CMV CP interact with viral RNA and are required for the formation of stable virions. Moreover, while the CP is necessary for cell-to-cell movement, the ability to form virions is not a prerequisite for cell-to-cell movement.

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