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Viable chimaeric viruses confirm the biological importance of sequence specific maize streak virus movement protein and coat protein interactions

DOI: 10.1186/1743-422x-5-61

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Using chimaeric genomes of two strains of Maize streak virus (MSV) we adopted a genetic approach to investigate the gross biological effects of interfering with interactions between virus MP and CP homologues derived from genetically distinct MSV isolates. MP and CP genes were reciprocally exchanged, individually and in pairs, between maize (MSV-Kom)- and Setaria sp. (MSV-Set)-adapted isolates sharing 78% genome-wide sequence identity. All chimaeras were infectious in Zea mays c.v. Jubilee and were characterized in terms of symptomatology and infection efficiency. Compared with their parental viruses, all the chimaeras were attenuated in symptom severity, infection efficiency, and the rate at which symptoms appeared. The exchange of individual MP and CP genes resulted in lower infection efficiency and reduced symptom severity in comparison with exchanges of matched MP-CP pairs.Specific interactions between the mastrevirus MP and CP genes themselves and/or their expression products are important determinants of infection efficiency, rate of symptom development and symptom severity.Mutation studies are often employed in attempts to identify the genetic basis of important aspects of a pathogen's phenotype. For example, in order to understand the genomic determinants of pathogenicity, genetic elements may be altered in, deleted from, or exchanged between virulent and benign pathogen isolates. During the last two decades, molecular biologists studying the ssDNA geminiviruses (family: Geminiviridae) have made extensive use of intra- and intergeneric genetic exchange in a wide variety of experiments. Briddon et al. [1] replaced the coat protein gene of the whitefly-transmitted African cassava mosaic begomovirus (ACMV) with that of beet curly top curtovirus (BCTV) and successfully transmitted the recombinant ACMV via the BCTV-specific leafhopper vector Circulifer renellus (Baker), thereby demonstrating that insect vector specificity for geminiviruses is determined by the co


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