Date of this Version
Virology 376 (2008) 297–307.
Citrus tristeza virus (CTV), a member of the Closteroviridae, possesses a 19.3-kb positive-stranded RNA genome that is organized into twelve open reading frames (ORFs). The CTV genome contains two sets of conserved genes, which are characteristic of this virus group, the replication gene block (ORF 1a and 1b) and the quintuple gene block (p6, HSP70 h, p61, CPm, and CP). With the exception of the p6 gene, they are required for replication and virion assembly. CTV contains five additional genes, p33, p18, p13, p20 and p23, in the 3′ half of the genome, some of which (p33, p18 and p13) are not conserved among other members of this virus group, and have been proposed to have evolved for specific interactions with the citrus host. In the present study, the requirements for systemic infection of citrus trees of p33, p6, p18, p13 and p20 were examined. Viral mutants with a deletion in the p6 or the p20 ORF failed to infect citrus plants systemically, suggesting their possible roles in virus translocation/ systemic infection. However, we found that deletions within the p33, p18 or p13 ORF individually resulted in no significant loss of ability of the virus to infect, multiply, and spread throughout citrus trees. Furthermore, deletions in the p33, p18 and p13 genes in all possible combinations including deletions in all three genes allowed the virus to systemically invade citrus trees. Green fluorescent protein-tagged CTV variants with deletions in the p33 ORF or the p33, p18 and p13 ORFs demonstrated that the movement and distribution of these deletion mutants were similar to that of the wild-type virus.