Rose rosette virus (RRV) is a negative-sense RNA virus with a seven-segmented genome that is enclosed by a double membrane. Researchers constructed an unconventional minireplicon system encoding the antigenomic (ag)RNA1 (encoding the viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase [RdRp]), agRNA3 (encoding the nucleocapsid protein [N]), and a modified agRNA5 containing the coding sequence for the iLOV protein in place of the P5 open reading frame (R5-iLOV).
iLOV expression from the R5-iLOV template was amplified by activities of the RdRp and N proteins in Nicotiana benthamiana leaves. A mutation was introduced into the RdRp catalytic domain and iLOV expression was eliminated, indicating RNA1-encoded polymerase activity drives iLOV expression from the R5-iLOV template.
Fluorescence from the replicon was highest at 3 days postinoculation (dpi) and declined at 7 and 13 dpi. Addition of the tomato bushy stunt virus (TBSV) P19 silencing-suppressor protein prolonged expression until 7 dpi. A full-length infectious clone system was constructed of seven binary plasmids encoding each of the seven genome segments. Agro-delivery of constructs encoding RRV RNAs 1 through 4 or RNAs 1 through 7 to N. benthamiana plants produced systemic infection.
Finally, agro-delivery of the full-length RRV infectious clone including all segments produced systemic infection within 60 dpi. This advance opens new opportunities for studying RRV infection biology.