Viral infection enables phloem loading of GFP and long-distance trafficking of the protein

Gadi Peleg, Dikla Malter, Shmuel Wolf*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


It is generally accepted that viral systemic infection follows the source-to-sink symplastic pathway of sugar translocation. In plants that are classified as apoplastic loaders, the boundary between the companion cell-sieve element (CC-SE) complex and neighboring cells is symplastically restricted, and the potential passage of macromolecules between the two domains has yet to be explored. Transgenic tobacco plants expressing green fluorescence protein (GFP) and cucumber mosaic virus (CMV)-encoded proteins fused to GFP under the control of the fructose-1,6-bisphosphatase (FBPase) promoter were produced in order to localize the encoded proteins in mesophyll and bundle sheath cells and to explore the influence of viral infection on the functioning of plasmodesmata interconnecting the two domains. GFP produced outside the vascular tissue could overcome the symplastic barrier between the CC-SE complex and the surrounding cells to enter the vasculature in CMV-infected plants. Grafting of control (non-transgenic) tobacco scions to CMV-infected FBPase-GFP-expressing root stocks confirmed that GFP could move long distances in the phloem. No movement of the gfp mRNA was noticeable in this set of experiments. The ability of GFP to enter the vasculature and move long distances was also evident upon infection of the grafting plants with other viruses. These results provide experimental evidence for alteration of the functioning of plasmodesmata interconnecting the CC-SE complex and neighboring cells by viral infection to enable non-selective trafficking of macromolecules from the mesophyll into the sieve tube.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)165-172
Number of pages8
JournalPlant Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2007


  • Coat protein
  • Cucumber mosaic virus
  • Movement protein
  • Plasmodesmata
  • Tobacco


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