The sequence of the 3′-terminal 1611 nucleotides of the genome of the tobacco veinal necrosis strain of potato virus Y (PVY) was determined. The sequence revealed an open reading frame of 1285 nucleotides, of which the start was not identified, and an untranslated region of 316 nucleotides upstream of a poly(A) tract. Comparison of the open reading frame with the amino-terminal sequence of the viral coat protein enabled mapping of the start of the coat protein at amino acid -267, and indicated that maturation of this protein requires proteolytic processing from a larger polyprptein precursor at a glutamine/glycine dipeptide sequence. The coat protein of PVY displayed significant (51 to 63%) sequence homology to the coat proteins of four other potyviruses, tobacco etch virus, tobacco vein mottling virus, plum pox virus and sugarcane mosaic virus. Even higher sequence homology (91%) was detected with the coat protein of a fifth potyvirus, pepper mottle virus (PeMV). This homology was of the same level as found between the coat proteins of PVY and a second strain of this virus, PVY. Since, moreover, PVY and PeMV were the only potyviruses displaying homology in the 3′-terminal, non-translated regions of their genomes, we conclude that PeMV should be regarded as a strain of PVY.

Keyword(s): PeMV , potyviruses and PVYN

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