Orchid fleck virus (OFV) has a unique two-segmented negative-sense RNA genome that resembles that of plant nucleorhabdoviruses. In infected plant cells, OFV and nucleorhabdoviruses induce an intranuclear electron-lucent viroplasm that is believed to be the site for virus replication. In this study, we investigated the molecular mechanism by which OFV viroplasms are produced in vivo. Among OFV-encoded proteins, the nucleocapsid protein (N) and the putative phosphoprotein (P) were present in nuclear fractions of OFV-infected Nicotiana benthamiana plants. Transient coexpression of N and P, in the absence of virus infection, was shown to be sufficient for formation of an intranuclear viroplasm-like structure in plant cells. When expressed independently as a fluorescent protein fusion product in uninfected plant cells, N protein accumulated throughout the cell, while P protein accumulated in the nucleus. However, the N protein, when coexpressed with P, was recruited to a subnuclear region to induce a large viroplasm-like focus. Deletion and substitution mutagenesis demonstrated that the P protein contains a nuclear localization signal (NLS). Artificial nuclear targeting of the N-protein mutant was insufficient for formation of viroplasm-like structures in the absence of P. A bimolecular fluorescence complementation assay confirmed interactions between the N and P proteins within subnuclear viroplasm-like foci and interactions of two of the N. benthamiana importin-α homologues with the P protein but not with the N protein. Taken together, our results suggest that viroplasm formation by OFV requires nuclear accumulation of both the N and P proteins, which is mediated by P-NLS, unlike nucleorhabdovirus viroplasm utilizing the NLS on protein N.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science