dN/dS-based methods detect positive selection linked to trade-offs between different fitness traits in the coat protein of potato virus Y.
Soybean mosaic virus (SMV), a member of the genus Potyvirus, is transmitted by aphids in a non-persistent manner. It has been well documented that the helper component-proteinase (HC-Pro) plays a role as a 'bridge' between virion particles and aphid stylets in the aphid transmission of potyviruses. Several motifs, including the KITC and PTK motifs on HC-Pro and the DAG motif on the coat protein (CP), have been found to be involved in aphid transmission. Previously, we have shown strong interaction between SMV CP and HC-Pro in a yeast two-hybrid system (YTHS). In this report, we further analysed this CP-HC-Pro interaction based on YTHS and an in vivo binding assay to identify crucial amino acid residues for this interaction. Through this genetic approach, we identified two additional amino acid residues (H256 on CP and R455 on HC-Pro), as well as G12 on the DAG motif, crucial for the CP-HC-Pro interaction. We introduced mutations into the identified residues using an SMV infectious clone and showed that these mutations affected the efficiency of aphid transmission of SMV. We also investigated the involvement of the PTK and DAG motifs in the CP-HC-Pro interaction and aphid transmission of SMV. Our results support the concept that physical interaction between CP and HC-Pro is important for potyviral aphid transmission. Based on the combination of our current results with previous findings, the possibility that aphid transmission may be regulated by more complex molecular interactions than the simple involvement of HC-Pro as a bridge is discussed.