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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Ithaca, New York » Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture & Health » Emerging Pests and Pathogens Research » Research » Research Project #439060

Research Project: Leveraging a Structure-Function Approach to Block Polerovirus Transmission by Aphids

Location: Emerging Pests and Pathogens Research

Project Number: 8062-22410-007-003-A
Project Type: Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jul 1, 2020
End Date: May 31, 2024

Viruses have optimized the use of their genomes to move between hosts. Insectvectored viruses pose one of the greatest global threats to plant and animal health. Few effective strategies have been developed that control transmission of any insect-transmitted virus, and most have negative impacts on the environment and human health. The goal of this project is to develop and validate novel strategies that disrupt virus transmission by insects. This work will focus on poleroviruses, which are plant viruses transmitted by aphids. Poleroviruses cause major economic damage in a wide range of crops. Virus structural proteins make up the protein shell, or capsid, of the virus. The virus remains encased in the capsid during aphid transmission. This project will determine how viral structural proteins regulate aphid transmission. Data shows that the structural protein that regulates aphid transmission forms a particular structure that is conserved among different poleroviruses, suggesting a conserved function in virus transmission by aphids. The Cooperator and ARS will develop and optimize transmission blocking strategies using this form of the virus structural protein, characterize aphid proteins that bind to this structural protein and use tools from structural biology to visualize this protein in the virion at the atomic level. This work will generate new fundamental knowledge about aphid transmission of oleroviruses and help our team to optimize a strategy to block virus transmission to transfer to growers. The information will be widely applicable to other plant and animal viruses transmitted in a similar manner by various insect and other arthropod vectors.

The objectives of this proposal provide complementary data types to advance our understanding of luteovirid transmission by aphids. This work will focus on poleroviruses, specifically Potato leafroll virus, which is an economic problem of potato in the U.S. and around the world where potatoes are grown. The primary aphid vector, Myzus persicae, has a global distribution. The primary goal is to determine how viral structural proteins regulate aphid transmission of the virus. This proposal will: Objective 1. Develop and optimize virus transmission blocking strategies. Objective 2. Identify and functionally characterize aphid proteins interacting with the viral readthrough protein. Objective 3. Determine the structure of the readthrough protein that is incorporated into virions.