Identification of host proteins modulated by the virulence factor AC2 of Tomato chlorotic mottle virus in Nicotiana benthamiana


  • Colour Online: See the article online to view Figs. 1–3 in colour.


Tomato, one of the most important crops cultivated worldwide, has been severely affected by begomoviruses such as the Tomato chlorotic mottle virus (ToCMoV). Virulence factor AC2 is considered crucial for a successful virus–plant interaction and is known to act as a transcriptional activator and in some begomoviruses to function as an RNA silencing suppressor factor. However, the exact functions of the AC2 protein of the begomovirus ToCMoV are not yet established. The aim of the present study was to identify differentially expressed proteins of the model plant Nicotiana benthamiana in response to the expression of the AC2 gene, isolated from ToCMoV. N. benthamiana plants were inoculated with Agrobacterium tumefaciens containing the viral vector Potato virus X (PVX) and with the PVX-AC2 construction. 2DE was performed and proteins were identified by MS. The results showed that the expression of ToCMoV AC2 alters the levels of several host proteins, which are important for normal plant development, causing an imbalance in cellular homeostasis. This study highlights the effect of AC2 in the modulation of plant defense processes by increasing the expression of several oxidative stress-related and pathogenesis-related proteins, as well as its role in modulating the proteome of the photosynthesis and energy production systems.