Resistance to Plum pox virus in plants expressing cytosolic and nuclear single‐chain antibodies against the viral RNA NIb replicase
ABSTRACT The expression of engineered single-chain variable fragments specific to the NIb RNA replicase of Plum pox virus (PPV) (scFv2A) in transgenic plants was successfully used as a strategy to interfere with viral infection. Different scFv2A fusion proteins were constructed to target those subcellular compartments, such as the cytosol, endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membrane structures and the nucleus, where NIb protein presumably accumulates. Several transgenic lines of Nicotiana benthamiana plants expressing the scFv2A targeted to the cytosol (2A lines), ER (6K2 lines) and nucleus (NLS lines) were obtained. The protective effect of scFv expression was determined by mechanical virus inoculation in five 2A, three 6K2 and four NLS transgenic lines. The strongest resistance was afforded with the 2A-3 (six non-infected plants out of 10), 6K2-1 (17 out of 33) and NLS-11 (16 out of 19) transgenic lines. The success of this interference with PPV infection opens new possibilities for the control of this RNA virus and could be exploited not only to confer resistance in transgenic plants, but also to elucidate the role of the non-structural NIb protein in different cell compartments during viral infection.