Multivesicular bodies (MVB) are membranous cytoplasmic inclusions that are invariably associated with tombusvirus infections regardless of the virus species, the host, or the tissue examined. MVB are virus-induced structures since they are absent from tissues of healthy plants and are always present both in infected plants and protoplasts. MVB derive from peroxisomes in cells infected by a number of tombusviruses including cymbidium ringspot virus (CymRSV) and from mitochondria in cells infected by another tombusvirus, carnation Italian ringspot virus (CIRV). By using common restriction sites in full-length infectious clones, hybrid clones of these two viruses were constructed. In addition, a mutant of CIRV was prepared in which the protein encoded by the first open reading frame was shortened by 22 amino acids. All mutant transcripts were viable and infected Nicotiana benthamiana plants. Infected leaf tissue samples were collected, processed for thin sectioning, and observed in the electron microscope. The origin of MVB was shown to be under the control of the 5' region of the viral genome. A sequence as short as about 600 nucleotides in ORF 1 contained the determinants for formation of MVB from peroxisomes or mitochondria.
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