, Volume 56, Issue 1, pp 111-124

Arabidopsis mutants that suppress the phenotype induced by transgene-mediated expression of cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) gene VI are less susceptible to CaMV-infection and show reduced ethylene sensitivity

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Abstract

Protein P6 is the main symptom determinant of cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV), and transgene-mediated expression in Arabidopsis induces a symptom-like phenotype in the absence of infection. Seeds of a P6-transgenic line, A7, were mutagenized by γ-irradiation and M2 seedlings were screened for mutants that suppressed the phenotype of chlorosis and stunting. We identified four mutants that were larger and less chlorotic than the A7 parent but which contained an intact and transcriptionally active transgene. The two mutants with the strongest suppression phenotype, were recessive and allelic. The transgene was eliminated by back-crossing with wild-type Arabidopsis. In progeny lines that were homozygous for the putative suppressor mutation the proportion of plants becoming infected following inoculation with CaMV was 40% that of wild-type, although in plants that did become infected, levels of virus DNA in mutants and wild-type did not differ significantly. Symptoms in the mutants were milder and delayed although this was somewhat dependent on the virus isolate. This phenotype was inherited stably. Both mutant alleles showed a partially ethylene-insensitive phenotype in an ethylene triple response assay. P6-transgenic plants were also almost completely insensitive to ethylene in the triple response assay. We suggest that the chlorosis and stunting in P6-transgenic and CaMV-infected plants are dependent on interactions between P6 and components involved in ethylene signalling, and that the suppressor gene product may function to augment these interactions.