U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Document Type


Date of this Version



Viruses 2019, 11, 472


© 2019 by the authors.

Open access



Wheat streak mosaic virus (WSMV; genus Tritimovirus; family Potyviridae) is an economically important virus infecting wheat in the Great Plains region of the USA. Previously, we reported that the P1 protein of WSMV acts as a viral suppressor of RNA silencing. In this study, we delineated the minimal region of WSMV P1 and examined its mechanisms in suppression of RNA silencing. We found that the 25 N-terminal amino acids are dispensable, while deletion of a single amino acid at the C-terminal region completely abolished the RNA silencing suppression activity of P1. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays with in vitro expressed P1 revealed that the P1 protein formed complexes with green fluorescent protein-derived 180-nt dsRNA and 21 and 24-nt ds-siRNAs, and WSMV coat protein-specific 600-nt dsRNA. These data suggest that the P1 protein of WSMV binds to dsRNAs in a size- and sequence-independent manner. Additionally, in vitro dicing assay with human Dicer revealed that the P1 protein effciently protects dsRNAs from processing by Dicer into siRNAs, by forming complexes with dsRNA. Sequence comparison of P1-like proteins from select potyvirid species revealed that WSMV P1 harbors a glycine-tryptophan (GW) motif at the C-terminal region. Disruption of GW motif in WSMV P1 through W303A mutation resulted in loss of silencing suppression function and pathogenicity enhancement, and abolished WSMV viability. These data suggest that the mechanisms of suppression of RNA silencing of P1 proteins of potyvirid species appear to be broadly conserved in the family Potyviridae.