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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

TMV-Cg Coat Protein stabilizes DELLA proteins and in turn negatively modulates salicylic acid-mediated defense pathway during Arabidopsis thaliana viral infection

Maria Cecilia Rodriguez12, Gabriela Conti12, Diego Zavallo12, Carlos Augusto Manacorda1 and Sebastian Asurmendi12*

Author Affiliations

1 Instituto de Biotecnología, CICVyA-INTA, Hurlingham, 1686, Buenos Aires, Argentina

2 Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Hurlingham, Buenos Aires, Argentina

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BMC Plant Biology 2014, 14:210  doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0210-x

Published: 3 August 2014

Abstract

Background

Plant viral infections disturb defense regulatory networks during tissue invasion. Emerging evidence demonstrates that a significant proportion of these alterations are mediated by hormone imbalances. Although the DELLA proteins have been reported to be central players in hormone cross-talk, their role in the modulation of hormone signaling during virus infections remains unknown.

Results

This work revealed that TMV-Cg coat protein (CgCP) suppresses the salicylic acid (SA) signaling pathway without altering defense hormone SA or jasmonic acid (JA) levels in Arabidopsis thaliana. Furthermore, it was observed that the expression of CgCP reduces plant growth and delays the timing of floral transition. Quantitative RT-qPCR analysis of DELLA target genes showed that CgCP alters relative expression of several target genes, indicating that the DELLA proteins mediate transcriptional changes produced by CgCP expression. Analyses by fluorescence confocal microscopy showed that CgCP stabilizes DELLA proteins accumulation in the presence of gibberellic acid (GA) and that the DELLA proteins are also stabilized during TMV-Cg virus infections. Moreover, DELLA proteins negatively modulated defense transcript profiles during TMV-Cg infection. As a result, TMV-Cg accumulation was significantly reduced in the quadruple-DELLA mutant Arabidopsis plants compared to wild type plants.

Conclusions

Taken together, these results demonstrate that CgCP negatively regulates the salicylic acid-mediated defense pathway by stabilizing the DELLA proteins during Arabidopsis thaliana viral infection, suggesting that CgCP alters the stability of DELLAs as a mechanism of negative modulation of antiviral defense responses.

Keywords:
TMV-Cg; Coat protein; DELLA proteins; SA signaling; Defense response