Intercellular transport of viruses through cytoplasmic connections, termed plasmodesmata (PD), is essential for systemic infection in plants by viruses. Previous genetic and ultrastructural data revealed that the potyvirus cyclindrical inclusion (CI) protein is directly involved in cell-to-cell movement, likely through the formation of conical structures anchored to and extended through PD. In this study, we demonstrate that plasmodesmatal localization of CI in N. benthamiana leaf cells is modulated by the recently discovered potyviral protein, P3N-PIPO, in a CI:P3N-PIPO ratio-dependent manner. We show that P3N-PIPO is a PD-located protein that physically interacts with CI in planta. The early secretory pathway, rather than the actomyosin motility system, is required for the delivery of P3N-PIPO and CI to PD. Moreover, CI mutations that disrupt virus cell-to-cell movement compromise PD-localization capacity. These data suggest that the CI and P3N-PIPO complex coordinates the formation of PD-associated structures that facilitate the intercellular movement of potyviruses in infected plants.
Plant viral pathogens cause an estimated US$60 billion loss in crop yields worldwide each year. Potyviruses, accounting for ∼30% of known plant viruses, include many agriculturally important viruses. Despite their importance, the cell-to-cell spread of potyviruses remains poorly understood. Previous studies have shown that at early time points of infection, the virus-encoded CI protein, one of 11 known potyviral proteins, is associated with cone-shaped structures at plasmodesmata (PD) and is involved in viral cell-to-cell movement. In this paper, we show that a newly identified potyviral protein, P3N-PIPO, is a PD-located protein and directs the CI protein to PD, facilitating the deposition of the cone-shaped structures of CI at PD by interacting with CI protein. We demonstrate that the mutant of CI, which impairs potyviral cell-to-cell movement, loses its ability to accumulate at PD. We further reveal that P3N-PIPO utilizes the secretory pathway rather than the actomyosin motility system for trafficking to PD. Taken together, the data presented in this study suggest that CI and P3N-PIPO coordinates the formation of conical structure at PD for potyviral cell-to-cell spread.