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Plant virus infection - a cell biology perspective

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It has long been known that viruses induce extensive remodeling of infected cells. These structural alterations include reshaping of large organelles (e.g., chloroplast, mitochondria), proliferation of membranes and membranous vesicles and modification of the plasmodesmata structure. These alterations have a ...

It has long been known that viruses induce extensive remodeling of infected cells. These structural alterations include reshaping of large organelles (e.g., chloroplast, mitochondria), proliferation of membranes and membranous vesicles and modification of the plasmodesmata structure. These alterations have a profound impact on the plant physiology and development. However, it is only more recently that studies have investigated the biogenesis of virus-induced structures and their biological function(s).

The induction of cellular remodeling is conceivably the result of interactions between plant and virus components. A large body of recent literature has been focused on the study of these interactions at the molecular level; in particular, the interaction of viral proteins or nucleic acids with host factors (proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, lipids and metabolites). Concurrent to these molecular studies, an avenue of investigation at the interface of molecular virology and plant cell biology has emerged. Techniques allowing easy expression of viral proteins or modified viral genomes in plants combined with powerful visualization tools (e.g., confocal microscopy, electron microscopy tomography) have shed a new light on the study of cellular remodeling in virus-infected plant cells. We now know that some of these novel sub-cellular structures are virus-induced organelles or “factories” that house the RNA replication complex. Other morphological changes (e.g. membrane vesicles, alteration of the plasmodesmata, cell wall-associated tubular structures) are related to the intracellular and intercellular movement of the virus. Finally, induction of autophagosomes and modification of large organelles have been observed in association with the innate immune response.

A recent focus of plant virology is to dissect the molecular and cellular requirements that underlie the biogenesis of virus-induced structures. One avenue of research investigates how the host secretory pathway is involved in viral replication. The trafficking of viral entities from their site of origin to the plasmodesmata for cell-to-cell movement is another area of intensive research. Finally, one can forecast that the cellular biology of host defense responses (including the innate immune response and RNA silencing mechanisms) to be a rapidly developing field of investigation. Many challenges lie ahead. A high definition of viral factory architecture is required to better understand the interplay between virus replication and various cellular processes (e.g., translation). The dynamics and mechanisms of how these virus-induced structures are released from or integrated into host organelles need to be further investigated. It is with these issues in mind that we ecourage interested individuals to contribute their expertise for an encyclopedic coverage of this Research Topic. All types of contributions are welcomed. We need Original Research Articles and “State-of-the-Art” reviews, for instance on what plant viruses do to the host cell interior (either directly or indirectly) and what parallel can be made with other plant pathogens or with animal viruses. We want commentaries on important questions that have still not been addressed and how they can be answered. Technology is also an all-important component for any area of investigation and we wish to have “Technical Advances” articles describing the panoply of tools available to follow viruses from a cell biology perspective.


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