Plasmodesmatal function is probed using transgenic tobacco plants that express a virus movement protein

Shmuel Wolf, Carl M. Deom, Roger Beachy, William J. Lucas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


A gene encoding a temperature-sensitive mutant (MPP154A) of the 30-kilodalton movement protein (MP) of tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) was transformed into Nicotiana tabacum cv Xanthi. Transgenic plants expressing the MPP154A gene complemented local and systemic movement of an MP-defective mutant of TMV (U3/12MPfs) at the permissive temperature of 24°C but not at 32°C, the nonpermissive temperature. A microinjection procedure was used to investigate the effects of the modified TMV MP on plasmodesmatal size-exclusion limits. Movement of fluorescein isothiocyanate-labeled dextran (F-dextran), with an average molecular mass of 9.4 kilodaltons, was detected between leaf mesophyll cells of the transgenic plants at 24°C; however, no movement of either 3.9-kilodalton or 9.4-kilodalton F-dextrans was detected when the transgenic plants were held for 6 hours (or longer) at 32°C. When these plants were shifted back to 24.°C for 6 hours, cell-to-cell movement of the F-dextrans was again observed. Accumulation of MPP154A was not affected by the temperature regime, nor was the subcellular distribution of the MP altered. These results are consistent with a change in the protein conformation of MPP154A at the nonpermissive temperature, which gives rise to a protein that fails to modify the molecular size-exclusion limits of plasmodesmata to the same extent as wild-type MP. Surprisingly, at 32°C, movement of the F-dextrans was inhibited in transgenic plants expressing the wild-type MP gene; however, the inhibition was transient and was no longer detected after 48 hours at this elevated temperature. This transient inhibition of plasmodesmatal function was alleviated with Sirofluor, an inhibitor of callose ([1→3]-β-D-glucan) synthesis. This result provides experimental evidence that callose deposition is involved in regulating the molecular size-exclusion limit of plasmodesmata in plants. Sirofluor had no effect on the inhibition of F-dextran movement at 32°C in plants expressing the MPP154A gene, indicating that callose formation was not responsible for the failure of the temperature-sensitive mutant protein to alter the size-exclusion limit of plasmodesmata.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)593-604
Number of pages12
JournalPlant Cell
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1991
Externally publishedYes


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