Role of Plant Virus Movement Proteins

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Plant viruses spread from the initially infected cells to the rest of the plant in several distinct stages. First, the virus (in the form of virions or nucleic acid protein complexes) moves intracellularly from the sites of replication to plasmodesmata (PD, plant-specific intercellular membranous channels), the virus then transverses the PD to spread intercellularly (cell-to-cell movement). Long-distance movement of virus occurs through phloem sieve tubes. The processes of plant virus movement are controlled by specific viral movement proteins (MPs). No extensive sequence similarity has been found in MPs belonging to different plant virus taxonomic groups. Moreover, different MPs were shown to use different pathways and mechanisms for virus transport. Some viral transport systems require a single MP while others require additional virus-encoded proteins to transport viral genomes. In this review, we focus on the functions and properties of different classes of MPs encoded by RNA containing plant viruses.