Long-distance movement factor: a transport function of the potyvirus helper component proteinase.
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Transport of viruses from cell to cell in plants typically involves one or more viral proteins that supply dedicated movement functions. Transport from leaf to leaf through phloem, or long-distance transport, is a poorly understood process with requirements differing from those of cell-to-cell movement. Through genetic analysis of tobacco etch virus (TEV; potyvirus group), a novel long-distance movement factor was identified that facilitates vascular-associated movement in tobacco. A mutation in the central region of the helper component proteinase (HC-Pro), a TEV-encoded protein with previously described activities in aphid-mediated transmission and polyprotein processing, inactivated long-distance movement. This mutant virus exhibited only minor defects in genome amplification and cell-to-cell movement functions. In situ histochemical analysis revealed that the mutant was capable of infecting mesophyll, bundle sheath, and phloem cells within inoculated leaves, suggesting that the long-distance movement block was associated with entry into or exit from sieve elements. The long-distance movement defect was specifically complemented by HC-Pro supplied in trans by a transgenic host. The data indicate that HC-Pro functions in one or more steps unique to long-distance transport.