Understanding the molecular mechanisms involved in plant virus–vector interactions is essential for the development of effective control measures for aphid-vectored epidemic plant diseases. The coat proteins (CP) are the main component of the viral capsids, and they are implicated in practically every stage of the viral infection cycle. Pea enation mosaic virus
1 (PEMV1, Enamovirus
) and Pea enation mosaic virus
2 (PEMV2, Umbravirus
) are two RNA viruses in an obligate symbiosis causing the pea enation mosaic disease. Sixteen mutant viruses were generated with mutations in different domains of the CP to evaluate the role of specific amino acids in viral replication, virion assembly, long-distance movement in Pisum sativum
, and aphid transmission. Twelve mutant viruses were unable to assemble but were able to replicate in inoculated leaves, move long-distance, and express the CP in newly infected leaves. Four mutant viruses produced virions, but three were not transmissible by the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum
. Three-dimensional modeling of the PEMV CP, combined with biological assays for virion assembly and aphid transmission, allowed for a model of the assembly of PEMV coat protein subunits.
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