Infection of the chestnut blight fungus, Cryphonectria parasitica, by the prototypic hypovirus Cryphonectria hypovirus 1-EP713 (CHV1-EP713) or by the type member, Mycoreovirus 1-Cp9B21 (MyRV1-CpgB21), of a novel genus (Mycoreovirus) of the family Reoviridae results in hypovirulence, but with a different spectrum of phenotypic changes. The former virus depresses pigmentation and conidiation dramatically, whilst the latter virus has little effect on these processes. This study showed that double infection by the two viruses resulted in a phenotype similar to that of CHV1-EP713 singly infected colonies, but with further decreased levels of host conidiation and vegetative growth and increased levels of MyRV1-Cp9B21 genomic dsRNA accumulation (twofold) and vertical transmission (sixfold). In contrast, CHV1-EP713 RNA accumulation was not altered by MyRV1-Cp9B21 infection. It was also found that the papain-like cysteine protease p29, encoded by CHV1-EP713 ORF A, contributes to the phenotypic alterations and transactivation of MyRV1-Cp9B21 replication and transmission. Chromosomally expressed p29 was able to increase MyRV1-Cp9B21 vertical transmission by more than twofold and genomic RNA accumulation by 80%. Transactivation was abolished by Cys→Gly mutations at p29 residues 70 and 72 located within the previously identified symptom-determinant domain required for suppression of host pigmentation and sporulation and p29-mediated in trans enhancement of homologous Δp29 mutant virus RNA replication. Transactivation was not altered by Ser substitutions at the p29 protease catalytic residue Cys162. These results indicated a link between p29-mediated enhancement of heterologous virus accumulation and transmission and p29-mediated host symptom expression. The role of p29 as a suppressor of RNA silencing is discussed.
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