The P25 protein of Potato virus X is the main pathogenicity determinant responsible for systemic necrosis in PVX-associated synergisms.

Journal of virology

PubMedID: 25473046

Aguilar E, Almendral D, Allende L, Pacheco R, Chung BN, Canto T, Tenllado F. The P25 protein of Potato virus X is the main pathogenicity determinant responsible for systemic necrosis in PVX-associated synergisms. J Virol. 2014;.
Most plant viruses counter the RNA silencing-based antiviral defense by expressing viral suppressors of RNA silencing (VSRs). In this sense, VSRs may be regarded as virulence effectors which can be recognized by the host as avirulence (avr) factors to induce R-mediated resistance. We made use of Agrobacterium-mediated transient co-expression of VSRs in combination with Potato virus X (PVX) to recapitulate at local tissues the systemic necrosis (SN) caused by PVX-potyvirus synergistic infections in Nicotiana benthamiana. The HR-like response was associated with an enhanced accumulation of PVX subgenomic RNAs. We further show that expression of P25, the VSR of PVX, in the presence of VSR from different viruses elicited an HR-like response in Nicotiana spp. Furthermore, the expression of P25 by a Plum pox virus (PPV) vector was sufficient to induce an increase of PPV pathogenicity that led to necrotic mottling. A frameshift mutation in the P25 ORF of PVX did not lead to necrosis when co-expressed with VSRs. These findings indicate that P25 is the main PVX determinant involved in eliciting a systemic HR-like response in PVX-associated synergisms. Moreover, we show that silencing of SGT1 and RAR1 attenuated cell death in both PVX-potyvirus synergistic infection and the HR-like response elicited by P25. Our study underscores that P25 variants that have impaired ability to suppress RNA silencing cannot act as elicitors when synergized by the presence of other VSRs. These findings highlight the importance of RNA silencing suppression activity in the HR-like response elicited by VSRs in certain hosts.IMPORTANCE
The work presented here describes how the activity of the PVX suppressor P25 elicits an HR-like response in Nicotiana spp when over-expressed with other VSR proteins. This finding suggests that the SN response caused by PVX-associated synergisms is a delayed immune response triggered by P25, once it reaches a threshold level by the action of other VSRs. Moreover, this work supports the contention that the silencing suppressor activity of PVX P25 protein is a prerequisite for HR elicitation. We propose that unidentified avr determinants could be involved in other cases of viral synergisms where heterologous "helper" viruses encoding strong VSRs exacerbate the accumulation of the avr-encoding virus.