Pea enation mosaic disease is caused by an obligatory association between the enamovirus -1 (PEMV-1) and the umbravirus -2(PEMV-2). Encapsidated RNAs 1 and 2 are covalently linked to a 3138 Da VPg encoded by the RNA of PEMV-1. To determine the role of the VPg in the pathogenicity of PEMV (PEMV-1+PEMV-2), the infectivity of clones with mutations in key amino acids in the VPg was evaluated in protoplasts and in plants. Using quantitative, real-time RT–PCR, we concluded that the inability of certain mutants to infect plants was due to their replicative (and not their movement) incompetence. Mutant clones that produced delayed and less severe infections accumulated 10- to 100-fold less RNA-1 compared to WT-RNA-1 both in plants and in protoplasts. The RNAs of clones that produced WT-like infections accumulated to levels similar to those of WT-PEMV. Also, we demonstrate that the severity of symptoms produced by WT-PEMV is proportional to the amount of RNA-1 that accumulates in infected plants and seems to be independent of the amount of RNA-2. A dual role for the VPg in the pathogenicity of PEMV is proposed.


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