MOLECULAR CHARACTERIZATION OF INTERACTIONS BETWEEN TMV REPLICASE PROTEIN AND AUXIN RESPONSIVE PROTEINS: IMPLICATIONS IN DISEASE DEVELOPMENT
Padmanabhan, Meenu Sreedevi
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Tobacco Mosaic Virus and Arabidopsis thaliana serve as ideal model systems to study the molecular aspects of virus - host interactions. Using this system, an interaction between the helicase domain within TMV replicase protein and an auxin responsive protein, IAA26 was identified. IAA26 is a member of the Aux/IAA family of transcription factors that function as repressors in signaling pathways controlled by the phytohormone auxin. Characterization of the interaction was carried out utilizing a helicase mutant defective in its interaction with IAA26 and by creating transgenic plants silenced for IAA26 expression. These studies suggest that the interaction was not essential for either viral replication or movement but promoted the development of disease symptoms. Cellular co-localization studies revealed that in TMV infected tissue, the nuclear localization and stability of IAA26 was compromised and the protein was relocalized to distinct cytoplasmic vesicles in association with the viral replicase. In keeping with its role as a transcription factor, the alterations in IAA26 function should lead to misregulation of downstream auxin responsive genes and this is supported by the fact that ~ 30% of the Arabidopsis genes displaying transcriptional alterations to TMV could be linked to the auxin signaling pathway. Aux/IAA family members share significant sequence and functional homology, and an additional interaction screen identified two more Arabidopsis Aux/IAA proteins, IAA27 and IAA18 and a putative tomato Aux/IAA protein, LeIAA26 that could interact with TMV helicase. The nuclear localization of these three proteins was disrupted by TMV and alterations in LeIAA26 levels induced virus infection-like symptoms in tomato. Additionally, transgenic plants over-expressing a proteolysis resistant mutant of IAA26 showed abnormal developmental phenotype, the severity of which was abrogated during TMV infection which blocked nuclear accumulation of the protein. Taken together, these findings suggest that TMV induced disease symptoms can partially be explained by the ability of the virus to disrupt the functioning of interacting Aux/IAA proteins within susceptible hosts. The significance of such interactions is yet to be determined but it appears that they may be advantageous to the virus while infecting tissues that are in a developmentally static stage.