The interaction of the coat protein (CP) of Turnip crinkle virus (TCV) with a host protein, TCV-interacting protein (TIP), from Arabidopsis thaliana has been reported previously. This interaction correlates with the ability of TCV CP to elicit the resistance response that is mediated by the resistance gene HRT in Arabidopsis ecotype Di-17. It has also been established that TCV CP is a suppressor of RNA silencing, a process by which the host plant targets viral RNA for degradation. These results have led to the speculation that TIP might be a component of the RNA-silencing pathway and that TCV CP suppresses RNA silencing through its interaction with TIP. In the current report, a number of TCV CP mutants have been investigated for their ability to suppress RNA silencing. These mutants include single amino acid substitution mutants that are known to have lost their ability to interact with TIP, as well as deletion mutants of TCV CP that are of different sizes and from different regions of the protein. Results showed that each of the single amino acid substitution mutants tested retained high levels of RNA silencing-suppressor activity. In addition, a mutant containing a 5 aa deletion in the region that is known to be critical for TIP interaction retained the ability to suppress RNA silencing significantly. Larger deletions in all regions of TCV CP abolished silencing-suppressor activity. It can be concluded from these results that the RNA silencing-suppressor activity of TCV CP cannot be attributed to its ability to interact directly with TIP.
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