The molecular basis of the interactions between plant virus satellites and their helper viruses is not understood. The features of the satellite tobacco mosaic virus (STMV) genome that determine tobamovirus helper specificity were investigated using two independent strategies. The first tested the possible significance of regions of nearly identical sequence within the 3′- terminal 150 bases of the genomes of STMV and its natural helper virus, tobacco mild green mosaic virus (TMGMV). A chimeric STMV clone containing the 3′ terminus of tobacco mosaic virus (TMV-U1) RNA was infectious in coinfections with TMGMV, but it did not replicate with TMV-U1. In the second strategy, populations of STMV adapted to replication with four alternative helper tobamoviruses were generated by serial passage in tobacco. RNase protection analyses of these RNA populations showed that in all cases there had been a genetic change 50 to 60 bases from the 5′ terminus of the STMV genome. Similar changes were detected in several progenies of STMV clones replicated with TMV-U1, indicating that change at this site was essential for replication with a helper virus other than TMGMV. Sequence analyses of the changes at this ‘helper adaptation domain’ showed consistently the deletion of a single G from five consecutive Gs at bases 61 to 65. Infectivity experiments with STMV clones containing this G deletion showed that this change alone was not sufficient to modify helper specificity, so additional factors which remain to be identified must also be involved. Nevertheless, these experiments show the ability of STMV populations to undergo rapid, reproducible evolution by both selection of pre-existing variants and mutation, and constitute the first molecular demonstration that the helper virus acts as a selection pressure on the evolution of satellite populations.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Most cited this month Most Cited RSS feed

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error