The genomic sequences of several RNA plant viruses including cucumber mosaic virus, brome mosaic virus, alfalfa mosaic virus and tobacco mosaic virus have become available recently. The former two viruses are icosahedral while the latter two are bullet and rod shaped, respectively in particle morphology. The non-structural 3a proteins of cucumber mosaic virus and brome mosaic virus have an amino acid sequence homology of 35% and hence are evolutionarily related. In contrast, the coat proteins exhibit little homology, although the circular dichroism spectrum of these viruses are similar. The non-coding regions of the genome also exhibit variable but extensive homology. Comparison of the brome mosaic virus and alfalfa mosaic virus sequences reveals that they are probably related although with a much larger evolutionary distance. The polypeptide folds of the coat protein of three biologically distinct isometric plant viruses, tomato Bushy stunt virus, southern bean mosaic virus and satellite tobacco necrosis virus have been shown to display a striking resemblance. All of them consist of a topologically similar 8-standard β-Barrel. The implications of these studies to the understanding of the evolution of plant viruses will be discussed.
Volume 46, 2021
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