The 3a protein of Cucumber mosaic virus is essential for the cell-to-cell movement of the viral RNA through plasmodesmata. We have introduced an epitope peptide before the stop codon of the 3a protein and cloned the tagged ORF into a binary vector for Agrobacterium-mediated transformation. The established transgenic tobacco lines produced the 3a protein, which was specifically detected with anti-3a and anti-epitope antisera. Metabolic labeling and subsequent immunoprecipitation revealed that [32P]-orthophosphate was incorporated into the 3a protein. The phosphoamino acid analysis indicated that the 3a protein contained phosphoserine but not phosphothreonine or phosphotyrosine. This is the first demonstration of the 3a protein phosphorylation in planta.
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