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Keywords:

  • eIF4E;
  • Potato virus Y;
  • Tobacco etch virus;
  • potyvirus;
  • Solanaceae;
  • disease resistance

Summary

Natural mutations in translation initiation factor eIF4E confer resistance to potyviruses in many plant species. Potato is a staple food crop plagued by several potyviruses, yet to date no known eIF4E-mediated resistance genes have been identified. In this study, we demonstrate that transgenic expression of the pvr12 gene from pepper confers resistance to Potato virus Y (PVY) in potato. We then use this information to convert the susceptible potato ortholog of this allele into a de novo allele for resistance to PVY using site-directed mutagenesis. Potato plants overexpressing the mutated potato allele are resistant to virus infection. Resistant lines expressed high levels of eIF4E mRNA and protein. The resistant plants showed growth similar to untransformed controls and produced phenotypically similar tubers. This technique disrupts a key step in the viral infection process and may potentially be used to engineer virus resistance in a number of economically important plant–viral pathosystems. Furthermore, the general public may be more amenable to the ‘intragenic’ nature of this approach because the transferred coding region is modified from a gene in the target crop rather than from a distant species.