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Virology. 1998 Dec 20;252(2):431-7.

Membrane targeting sequences in tombusvirus infections.

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Dipartimento di Protezione delle Piante, Università degli Studi, Bari, Italy.


Infection of Nicotiana benthamiana cells with cymbidium ringspot (CymRSV) and carnation Italian ringspot (CIRV) viruses results in the formation of conspicuous membranous bodies [multivesicular bodies (MVBs)], which develop from modified peroxisomes or mitochondria, respectively. The organelle targeting signal is located in the proteins of 33 kDa (CymRSV) or 36 kDa (CIRV) encoded by ORF 1, which contain an N-terminal hydrophilic portion followed by two predicted hydrophobic transmembrane segments. Biochemical analysis showed that the 33- and 36-kDa proteins are integral membrane proteins. By exchanging small portions of the ORF 1 sequence between the infectious full-length clones of the two viruses, hybrid constructs were obtained of which the in vitro synthesized RNA was inoculated to N. benthamiana plants and protoplasts. The structure of infectious clones suggested that both the N-terminal hydrophilic region and the transmembrane segments of the ORF 1-encoded proteins specify which organelle is involved in the synthesis of MVBs. Mutational analysis of the CIRV 36-kDa protein also suggested the presence of an internal mitochondrial targeting sequence similar to that found in several normal host proteins that are synthesized in the cytoplasm and transported to mitochondria. The CymRSV 33-kDa protein did not contain the obvious consensus signals thought to be characteristic of proteins targeted to peroxisomes, and an mitochondrial targeting sequence motif was not evident.

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