Plant Pathology Department


Date of this Version



Nunna, H.; Qu, F.; Tatineni, S. P3 and NIa-Pro of Turnip Mosaic Virus Are Independent Elicitors of Superinfection Exclusion. Viruses 2023, 15, 1459. 10.3390/v15071459


Open access.


Superinfection exclusion (SIE) is an antagonistic interaction between identical or closely related viruses in host cells. Previous studies by us and others led to the hypothesis that SIE was elicited by one or more proteins encoded in the genomes of primary viruses. Here, we tested this hypothesis using Turnip mosaic virus (TuMV), a member of the genus Potyvirus of the family Potyviridae, with significant economic consequences. To this end, individual TuMV-encoded proteins were transiently expressed in the cells of Nicotiana benthamiana leaves, followed by challenging them with a modified TuMV expressing the green fluorescent protein (TuMV-GFP). Three days after TuMV-GFP delivery, these cells were examined for the replication-dependent expression of GFP. Cells expressing TuMV P1, HC-Pro, 6K1, CI, 6K2, NIa-VPg, NIb, or CP proteins permitted an efficient expression of GFP, suggesting that these proteins failed to block the replication of a superinfecting TuMV-GFP. By contrast, N. benthamiana cells expressing TuMV P3 or NIa-Pro did not express visible GFP fluorescence, suggesting that both of them could elicit potent SIE against TuMV-GFP. The SIE elicitor activity of P3 and NIa-Pro was further confirmed by their heterologous expression from a different potyvirus, potato virus A (PVA). Plants systemically infected with PVA variants expressing TuMV P3 or NIa-Pro blocked subsequent infection by TuMV-GFP. A +1-frameshift mutation in P3 and NIa-Pro cistrons facilitated superinfection by TuMV-GFP, suggesting that the P3 and NIa-Pro proteins, but not the RNA, are involved in SIE activity. Additionally, deletion mutagenesis identified P3 amino acids 3 to 200 of 352 and NIa-Pro amino acids 3 to 40 and 181 to 242 of 242 as essential for SIE elicitation. Collectively, our study demonstrates that TuMV encodes two spatially separated proteins that act independently to exert SIE on superinfecting TuMV. These results lay the foundation for further mechanistic interrogations of SIE in this virus.