We have reported previously that tobamoviruses enable the transport of red clover mottle comovirus (RCMV) in tobacco plants normally resistant to RCMV. Here we show that RCMV transport does not take place in transgenic tobacco plants (line To-4) producing the 30K transport protein of tobacco mosaic virus (TMV), whereas the transport of the TMV Ls1 mutant, the cell-to-cell movement of which is temperature sensitive, is complemented in these plants. However, RCMV transport is observed when these transgenic plants are infected with both RCMV and TMV Ls1 at the non-permissive temperature (33 °C). It is suggested that (i) the hypothetical modification of transgenic plant plasmodesmata by the TMV 30K transport protein can specifically mediate the cell-to-cell movement of the homologous virus (TMV), but is insufficient to mediate RCMV transport; (ii) the presence of the full-length TMV genome or a certain TMV-encoded product(s) besides the 30K protein is essential for complementation of the RCMV transport function. The possibility that line To-4 might provide enough 30K protein to complement TMV Ls1 but not RCMV cannot be ruled out. During double infection the mutant 30K protein may, in concert with the wild-type 30K protein, provide the transport function for RCMV.


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