Two isolates of Youcai mosaic virus (YoMV) were obtained, and their full-length genomic sequences were determined. Full-length infectious cDNA clones of each isolate were generated in which the viral sequence was under the control of dual T7 and 35S promoters for both in vitro transcript production and agro-infiltration. Comparison of the predicted amino acid sequences of the encoded proteins revealed only four differences between the isolates: three in the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) (V383I and M492I in the 125-kDa protein and T1245M in the 182-kDa protein); and one in the overlapping region of the movement protein (MP) and coat protein (CP) genes, affecting only the N-terminal domain of CP (CP M17T). One of the isolates caused severe symptoms in Nicotiana benthamiana plants, while the other caused only mild symptoms. In order to identify the amino acid residues associated with symptom severity, chimeric constructs were generated by combining parts of the two infectious YoMV clones, and the symptoms in infected plants were compared to those induced by the parental isolates. This allowed us to conclude that the M17T substitution in the N-terminal domain of CP was responsible for the difference in symptom severity. The M17T variation was found to be unique among characterized YoMV isolates. A difference in potential post-translational modification resulting from the presence of a predicted casein kinase II phosphorylation site only in the CP of isolate HK2 may be responsible for the symptom differences.
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