Cornichon Proteins: Unexpected Roles in Plant Pathogen Infection, ER Morphology Maintenance and Pollen Development
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Cornichon (CNI) proteins are a conserved family of proteins among eukaryotes, from Erv14 in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae to CNI homologs (CNIHs) in mammals and plants. Erv14 functions as a cargo receptor of coat protein complex II (COPII) for protein trafficking from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to the Golgi apparatus, en route to their final destinations. By interacting with specific cargo proteins, CNI proteins regulate key steps of embryo polarity in Drosophila, budding in yeast, and synaptic transmission in the mammalian brain. However, we have very limited understanding of plant CNIHs. Positive-strand RNA viruses assemble their viral replication complexes (VRCs) at specific host organelle membranes. With a better understanding of host factors involved in targeting viral replication proteins to the preferred organelles, we expect to block trafficking of viral replication proteins and thus, viral infection, by manipulating the required host proteins. Brome mosaic virus (BMV) is a model of positive-strand RNA viruses and its replication can be recapitulated in yeast. Importantly, BMV replication protein 1a is the only required viral protein to form VRCs at the perinuclear ER membrane in yeast. I demonstrate that Erv14 and COPII coat proteins are required for targeting BMV 1a to the perinuclear ER in yeast, suggesting a novel function of COPII vesicles in protein trafficking to the perinuclear ER membrane and in the BMV VRC formation. As for cellular functions, I show that plant CNIHs complement the defective distribution of BMV 1a in yeast mutant lacking Erv14. Taking advantage of Arabidopsis thaliana knockout mutants and knockdown of gene expression in Nicotiana benthamina, I also discover that CNIHs unexpectedly play crucial roles in pollen development, infection of a bacterial pathogen, and maintenance of ER tubules. I further confirm that CNI proteins are also required for maintaining ER tubules in yeast, suggesting a novel and conserved role in shaping ER morphology. Therefore, these findings indicate the functional diversity and redundancy of CNI proteins in key cellular processes and suggest a novel strategy to control plant pathogenic viruses and bacteria by manipulating plant CNIHs.
- Doctoral Dissertations