Tomato yellow leaf curl disease is one of the most important threats to tomato crops worldwide. One of its causal agents, Tomato yellow leaf curl Sardinian virus (TYLCSV) is a monopartite member of the genus Begomovirus from the family Geminiviridae. Due to the few proteins encoded by their viral genome, geminiviruses rely heavily on host cellular machineries and interact with a wide range of plant proteins to complete all processes required for infection, such as viral replication, movement and suppression or evasion of plant defence mechanisms.
The identification of the host proteins involved in viral infection will be an important step towards the understanding of the mechanisms underlying this process. In our laboratory, transgenic Nicotiana benthamiana plants containing a green fluorescent protein (GFP) expression cassette flanked by two direct repeats of the intergenic region of TYLCSV have been constructed (2IR plants). When these plants are infected with TYLCSV, an overexpression of the reporter gene is observed in those cells where the virus is actively replicating. These plants have been used together with virus induced gene silencing (VIGS) in an effort to identify host genes involved in the infection process using a reverse genetics approach.
Using this combined technique our group has identified two genes δ-COP and ARF 1, involved in retrograde vesicle trafficking, which are essential for the infectious process. We are currently assaying genes codifying proteins involved in different pathways of the vesicle trafficking system: Sar1b, γ subunit of AP1, Sec24, SYT1 and two that encode the heavy chain of triskelion proteins. Their effect over viral infection will be presented and discussed