Tomato golden mosaic virus (TGMV), a member of the geminivirus family, requires a single virus-encoded protein for DNA replication. We show that the TGMV replication protein, AL1, also acts during transcription to specifically repress the activity of its promoter. An earlier study established that AL1 binds to a 13-bp sequence (5'-GGTAGTAAGGTAG) that is essential for activity of the TGMV replication origin. Analysis of AL1 binding site mutants in transient expression assays demonstrated that the same site, which is located between the transcription start site and TATA box in the AL1 promoter, also mediates transcriptional repression. These experiments revealed that the repeated motifs in the AL1 binding site contribute differentially to repression, as has been observed previously for AL1-DNA binding and viral replication. Introduction of the AL1 binding site into the 35S promoter of the cauliflower mosaic virus was sufficient to confer AL1-mediated repression to the heterologous promoter. Analysis of a truncated AL1 promoter and of mutant AL1 proteins showed that repression does not require a replication-competent template or a replication-competent AL1 protein. Transient expression studies using two different Nicotiana cell lines revealed that, although the two lines replicate plasmids containing the TGMV origin similarly, they support very different levels of AL1-mediated repression. These results suggest that geminivirus transcriptional repression and replication may be independent processes.
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