The tomato golden mosaic virus (TGMV) coat protein and AL1 genes are located in opposite directions on either side of an intergenic region. To enable the effects of the AL1, AL2 and AL3 gene products on expression of the coat protein and AL1 genes to be studied simultaneously, a plasmid was constructed, containing the intergenic region linked on one side to a 5′-terminal portion of the AL1 gene fused to a β-glucuronidase (GUS) reporter gene (to replace most of the AL1 gene) and on the other side to a neomycin phosphotransferase (NEO) reporter gene (to replace the coat protein gene). This GUS-NEO plasmid was mixed with plant expression plasmids containing the AL1, AL2 or AL3 coding regions, the DNA was transformed into protoplasts and GUS activities and NEO protein levels were measured. Control transformations were carried out with the GUS-NEO plasmid mixed with the AL1, AL2 or AL3 plasmids in which mutations were introduced to prevent translation of the open reading frames (ORFs). The results showed that transactivation of the coat protein gene by the AL2 gene product and suppression of the AL1 gene by the expression of AL1 DNA (both reported previously) can occur simultaneously. It was also shown that expression of AL4, a small ORF contained within AL1 DNA but in a different reading frame, as well as expression of ORF AL1, can cause significant suppression of AL1 gene expression. Neither the AL1 nor the AL3 gene products affected the expression of the coat protein gene.


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