Host proteins that are central to infection of potyviruses (genus Potyvirus
; family Potyviridae) include the eukaryotic translation initiation factors eIF4E and eIF(iso)4E. The potyviral genome-linked protein (VPg) and the helper component proteinase (HCpro) interact with each other and with eIF4E and eIF(iso)4E and proteins are involved in the same functions during viral infection. VPg interacts with eIF4E/eIF(iso)4E via the 7-methylguanosine cap-binding region, whereas HCpro interacts with eIF4E/eIF(iso)4E via the 4E-binding motif YXXXXLΦ, similar to the motif in eIF4G. In this study, HCpro and VPg were found to interact in the nucleus, nucleolus, and cytoplasm in cells infected with the potyvirus potato virus A (PVA). In the cytoplasm, interactions between HCpro and VPg occurred in punctate bodies not associated with viral replication vesicles. In addition to HCpro, the 4E-binding motif was recognized in VPg of PVA. Mutations in the 4E-binding motif of VPg from PVA weakened interactions with eIF4E and heavily reduced PVA virulence. Furthermore, mutations in the 4G-binding domain of eIF4E reduced interactions with VPg and abolished interactions with HCpro. Thus, HCpro and VPg can both interact with eIF4E using the 4E-binding motif. Our results suggest a novel interaction network used by potyviruses to interact with host plants via translation initiation factors.
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