Criniviruses comprise one of the genera within the family Closteroviridae. Members in this family are restricted to the phloem and rely on whitefly vectors of the genera Bemisia and/or Trialeurodes for plant-to-plant transmission. All criniviruses have bipartite, positive-sense single-stranded RNA genomes, although there is an unconfirmed report of one having a tripartite genome. Lettuce infectious yellows virus (LIYV) is the type species of the genus, the best studied so far of the criniviruses and the first for which a reverse genetics system was developed. LIYV RNA 1 encodes for proteins predicted to be involved in replication, and alone is competent for replication in protoplasts. Replication results in accumulation of cytoplasmic vesiculated membranous structures which are characteristic of most studied members of the Closteroviridae. These membranous structures, often referred to as Beet yellows virus (BYV)-type vesicles, are likely sites of RNA replication. LIYV RNA 2 is replicated in trans when co-infecting cells with RNA 1, but is temporally delayed relative to RNA 1. Efficient RNA 2 replication also is dependent on the RNA 1-encoded RNA-binding protein, P34. No LIYV RNA 2-encoded proteins have been shown to affect RNA replication, but at least four, CP (major coat protein), CPm (minor coat protein), Hsp70h, and P59 are virion structural components and CPm is a determinant of whitefly transmissibility. Roles of other LIYV RNA 2-encoded proteins are largely as yet unknown, but P26 is a non-virion protein that accumulates in cells as characteristic plasmalemma deposits which in plants are localized within phloem parenchyma and companion cells over plasmodesmata connections to sieve elements. The two remaining crinivirus-conserved RNA 2-encoded proteins are P5 and P9. P5 is 39 amino acid protein and is encoded at the 5 end of RNA 2 as ORF 1 and is part of the hallmark closterovirus gene array. The orthologous gene in BYV has been shown to play a role in cell-to-cell movement and indicated to be localized to the endoplasmic reticulum as a Type III integral membrane protein. The other small protein, P9, is encoded by ORF 4 overlaps with ORF 3 that encodes the structural protein, P59. P9 seems to be unique to viruses in the genus Crinivirus, as no similar protein has been detected in viruses of the other two genera of the Closteroviridae.
The citrus mealybug, Planococcus citri, is an important plant pest with a very broad plant host range. P. citri is a phloem feeder and loss of plant vigor and stunting are characteristic symptoms induced on a range of host plants, but P. citri also reduces fruit quality and causes fruit drop leading to significant yield reductions. Better strategies for managing this pest are greatly needed. RNA interference (RNAi) is an emerging tool for functional genomics studies and is being investigated as a practical tool for highly targeted insect control. Here we investigated whether RNAi effects can be induced in P. citri and whether candidate mRNAs could be identified as possible targets for RNAi-based P. citri control. RNAi effects were induced in P. citri, as demonstrated by specific target reductions of P. citri actin, chitin synthase 1 and V-ATPase mRNAs after injection of the corresponding specific double-stranded RNA inducers. We also used recombinant Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) to express these RNAi effectors in Nicotiana benthamiana plants. We found that P. citri showed lower fecundity and pronounced death of crawlers after feeding on recombinant TMV-infected plants. Taken together, our data show that actin, chitin synthase 1 and V-ATPase mRNAs are potential targets for RNAi against P. citri, and that recombinant TMV is an effective tool for evaluating candidate RNAi effectors in plants.
The Crinivirus, Lettuce infectious yellows virus (LIYV) has a bipartite, positive-sense ssRNA genome. LIYV RNA 1 encodes replication-associated proteins while RNA 2 encodes proteins needed for other aspects of the LIYV life cycle. LIYV RNA 1 ORF 2 encodes P34, a trans enhancer for RNA 2 accumulation. Here we show that P34 is a sequence non-specific ssRNA-binding protein in vitro. P34 binds ssRNA in a cooperative manner, and the C-terminal region contains the RNA-binding domain. Topology predictions suggest that P34 is a membrane-associated protein and the C-terminal region is exposed outside of the membrane. Furthermore, fusions of P34 to GFP localized to the perinuclear region of transfected protoplasts, and colocalized with an ER-specific dye. This localization was of interest since LIYV RNA 1 replication (with or without P34 protein) induced strong ER rearrangement to the perinuclear region. Together, these data provide insight into LIYV replication and possible functions of P34.
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