Sucrose Nonfermenting 1-Related Protein Kinase 1 Phosphorylates a Geminivirus Rep Protein to Impair Viral Replication and Infection.


Geminiviruses are single-stranded DNA viruses that infect a wide variety of plants and cause severe crop losses worldwide. The geminivirus replication initiator protein (Rep) binds to the viral replication origin and catalyzes DNA cleavage and ligation to initiate rolling circle replication. In this study, we found that the Tomato golden mosaic virus (TGMV) Rep is phosphorylated at serine-97 by sucrose nonfermenting 1-related protein kinase 1 (SnRK1), a master regulator of plant energy homeostasis and metabolism. Phosphorylation of Rep or the phosphomimic S97D mutation impaired Rep binding to viral DNA. A TGMV DNA-A replicon containing the Rep S97D mutation replicated less efficiently in tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) protoplasts than in wild-type or Rep phosphorylation-deficient replicons. The TGMV Rep-S97D mutant also was less infectious than the wild-type virus in Nicotiana benthamiana and was unable to infect tomato (Solanum lycopersicum). Nearly all geminivirus Rep proteins have a serine residue at the position equivalent to TGMV Rep serine-97. SnRK1 phosphorylated the equivalent serines in the Rep proteins of Tomato mottle virus and Tomato yellow leaf curl virus and reduced DNA binding, suggesting that SnRK1 plays a key role in combating geminivirus infection. These results established that SnRK1 phosphorylates Rep and interferes with geminivirus replication and infection, underscoring the emerging role for SnRK1 in the host defense response against plant pathogens.





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Publication Info

Shen, Wei, Benjamin G Bobay, Laura A Greeley, Maria I Reyes, Cyprian A Rajabu, R Kevin Blackburn, Mary Beth Dallas, Michael B Goshe, et al. (2018). Sucrose Nonfermenting 1-Related Protein Kinase 1 Phosphorylates a Geminivirus Rep Protein to Impair Viral Replication and Infection. Plant physiology, 178(1). pp. 372–389. 10.1104/pp.18.00268 Retrieved from

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Benjamin Bobay

Assistant Professor in Radiology

I am the Assistant Director of the Duke University NMR Center and an Assistant Professor in the Duke Radiology Department. I was originally trained as a structural biochemist with an emphasis on utilizing NMR and continue to use this technique daily helping collaborators characterize protein structures and small molecules through a diverse set of NMR experiments. Through the structural characterization of various proteins, from both planta and eukaryotes, I have developed a robust protocol of utilizing computational biology for describing binding events, mutations, post-translations modifications (PTMs), and/or general behavior within in silico solution scenarios. I have utilized these techniques in collaborations ranging from plant pathologists at the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences department at the University of Amsterdam to biomedical engineers at North Carolina State University to professors in the Pediatrics department at Duke University. These studies have centered around the structural and functional consequences of PTMs (such as phosphorylation), mutation events, truncation of multi-domain proteins, dimer pulling experiments, to screening of large databases of ligands for potential binding events. Through this combination of NMR and computational biology I have amassed 50 peer-reviewed published articles and countless roles on scientific projects, as well as the development of several tutorials concerning the creation of ligand databases and high-throughput screening of large databases utilizing several different molecular dynamic and computational docking programs.

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