Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 37319262
Link to DOI – 10.1371/journal.pbio.3002157
PLoS Biol 2023 Jun; 21(6): e3002157
Numerous, diverse plant viruses encode movement proteins (MPs) that aid the virus movement through plasmodesmata, the plant intercellular channels. MPs are essential for virus spread and propagation in distal tissues, and several unrelated MPs have been identified. The 30K superfamily of MPs (named after the molecular mass of tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) MP, the classical model of plant virology) is the largest and most diverse MP variety, represented in 16 virus families, but its evolutionary origin remained obscure. Here, we show that the core structural domain of the 30K MPs is homologous to the jelly-roll domain of the capsid proteins (CPs) of small RNA and DNA viruses, in particular, those infecting plants. The closest similarity was observed between the 30K MPs and the CPs of the viruses in the families Bromoviridae and Geminiviridae. We hypothesize that the MPs evolved via duplication or horizontal acquisition of the CP gene in a virus that infected an ancestor of vascular plants, followed by neofunctionalization of one of the paralogous CPs, potentially through the acquisition of unique N- and C-terminal regions. During the subsequent coevolution of viruses with diversifying vascular plants, the 30K MP genes underwent explosive horizontal spread among emergent RNA and DNA viruses, likely permitting viruses of insects and fungi that coinfected plants to expand their host ranges, molding the contemporary plant virome.