Symplastic transport of different sized fluorescent probes has been assessed in leaf epidermal cells of transgenic plants expressing the movement protein (MP) of alfalfa mosaic virus (AMV). In both and , the size exclusion limit (SEL) of plasmodesmata increased from 1000, which represents the commonly accepted limit, to over 4.4K. However, in control plants, movement of a 3K probe was seen in 11 to 22% of the injections, indicating that plasmodesmata may on occasion allow the passage of molecules larger than was previously thought. The increase of SEL due to the presence of the AMV MP, although significant, remains insufficient to permit the passage of viral particles and the possibility of other mechanisms involved in viral cell-to-cell spread is discussed.


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