Tomato golden mosaic virus (TGMV) is a geminivirus that replicates its single-stranded DNA genome through double-stranded DNA intermediates in nuclei of differentiated plant cells using host replication machinery. We analyzed the distribution of viral and plant DNA in nuclei of infected leaves using fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). TGMV-infected nuclei showed up to a sixfold increase in total volume and displayed a variety of viral DNA accumulation patterns. The most striking viral DNA patterns were bright, discrete intranuclear compartments, but diffuse nuclear localization was also observed. Quantitative and spatial measurements of high resolution 3-dimensional image data revealed that these compartments accounted for 1–18% of the total nuclear volume or 2–45% of the total nuclear FISH signals. In contrast, plant DNA was concentrated around the nuclear periphery. In a significant number of nuclei, the peripheral chromatin was organized as condensed prophase-like fibers. A combination of FISH analysis and indirect immunofluorescence with viral coat protein antibodies revealed that TGMV virions are associated with the viral DNA compartments. However, the coat protein antibodies failed to cross react with some large viral DNA inclusions, suggesting that encapsidation may occur after significant viral DNA accumulation. Infection by a TGMV mutant with a defective coat protein open reading frame resulted in fewer and smaller viral DNA-containing compartments. Nevertheless, nuclei infected with the mutant virus increased in size and in some cases showed chromosome condensation. Together, these results established that geminivirus infection alters nuclear architecture and can induce plant chromatin condensation characteristic of cells arrested in early mitosis.

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