Molecular Plant Pathology – Pathogen Profiles

Turnip yellow mosaic virus: transfer RNA mimicry, chloroplasts and a C-rich genome

Theo W. Dreher

Department of Microbiology and Center for Gene Research and Biotechnology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA

Taxonomy:Turnip yellow mosaic virus (TYMV) is the type species of the genus Tymovirus, family Tymoviridae. TYMV is a positive strand RNA virus of the alphavirus-like supergroup.

Physical properties: Virions are non-enveloped 28-nm T = 3 icosahedrons composed of a single 20-kDa coat protein that is clustered in 20 hexameric and 12 pentameric subunits. Infectious particles and empty capsids coexist in infected tissue. The genomic RNA is 6.3 kb long, with a 5′m7GpppG cap and a 3′ untranslated region ending in a tRNA-like structure to which valine can be covalently added. The genome has a distinctive skewed C-rich, G-poor composition (39% C, 17% G).

Viral proteins:Two proteins, whose open reading frames extensively overlap, are translated from the genomic RNA. p206, which contains sequences indicative of RNA capping, NTPase/helicase and polymerase activities, is the only viral protein that is necessary for genome replication in single cells. It is produced as a polyprotein and self-cleaved to yield 141- and 66-kDa proteins. p69 is required for virus movement within the plant and is also a suppressor of gene silencing. The coat protein is expressed from the single subgenomic RNA.

Hosts and symptoms: TYMV has a narrow host range almost completely restricted to the Cruciferae. Experimental host species are Brassica pekinensis (Chinese cabbage) or B. rapa(turnip), in which diffuse chlorotic local lesions and systemic yellow mosaic symptoms appear. Arabidopsis thaliana can also be used. Clumping of chloroplasts and the accumulation of vesicular invaginations of the chloroplast outer membranes are distinctive cytopathological symptoms. High yields of virus are produced in all leaf tissues, and the virus is readily transmissible by mechanical inoculation. Localized transmission by flea beetles may occur in the field