Plant virus cell-to-cell movement is not dependent on the transmembrane disposition of its movement protein
The cell-to-cell transport of plant viruses depends on one or more virus-encoded movement proteins (MPs). Some MPs are integral membrane proteins that interact with the membrane of the endoplasmic reticulum, but a detailed understanding of the interaction between MPs and biological membranes has been lacking. The cell-to-cell movement of the Prunus necrotic ringspot virus (PNRSV) is facilitated by a single MP of the 30K superfamily. Here, using a myriad of biochemical and biophysical approaches, we show that the PNRSV MP contains only one hydrophobic region (HR) that interacts with the membrane interface, as opposed to being a transmembrane protein. We also show that a proline residue located in the middle of the HR constrains the structural conformation of this region at the membrane interface, and its replacement precludes virus movement.
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