Associate Professor in Virology

Department of Plant Biology, SLU
Eugene Savenkov

Molecular Biology of Plant RNA viruses and small RNAs

Viral infections cause tremendous losses in crop yield and quality. These losses are attributed to virus-induced developmental changes in the host plant, exhibited as disease symptoms. However, the molecular basis of disease symptom development in plants remains poorly understood. Our aim is to understand the genetic underpinnings of virus-induced symptom development through identification and characterisation of molecular targets of nuclear-imported viral proteins (NVPs), virus-derived and virus-induced small RNAs. Thus, we want to unravel molecular pathways linking developmental biology to viral infection.

Our current projects include studies of:

To advance these studies we consolidate expertise in cell and molecular biology with that in bioinformatics and genome-wide NGS techniques.

Plant RNA viruses are fascinating infectious entities…

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Selected Recent Publications

Kalyandurg P.B., Tahmasebi A., Vetukuri R.R., Kushwaha S.K., Lezzhov A.A., Solovyev A.G., Grenville-Briggs L.J., Savenkov E.I. (2019) Efficient RNA silencing suppression activity of Potato Mop-Top Virus 8K protein is driven by variability and positive selection. Virology, 535: 111-121.

Gil J.F., Liebe S., Thiel H., Lennfors B-L., Kraft T., Gilmer D., Maiss E., Varrelmann M., Savenkov E.I. (2018) Massive up-regulation of LBD transcription factors and EXPANSINs highlights the regulatory programs of rhizomania disease. Molecular Plant Pathology, 19: 2333-2348.

Cowan G.H., Roberts A.G., Jones S., Kumar P., Kalyandurg P.B., Gil J.F., Savenkov E.I., Hemsley P.A., Torrance L. (2018) Potato mop-top virus co-opts the stress sensor HIPP26 for long-distance movement. Plant Physiology, 176: 2052-2070.

Kalyandurg P., Gil J. F., Lukhovitskaya N.I., Flores B., Müller G., Chuquillanqui C., Palomino L., Monjane A., Barker I., Kreuze J., Savenkov E. I. (2017) Molecular and pathobiological characterization of 61 Potato mop-top virus full-length cDNAs reveals great variability of the virus in the centre of potato domestication, novel genotypes and evidence for recombination. Molecular Plant Pathology, 18: 864-877.

Lukhovitskaya N.I., Cowan G.H., Vitukuri R. R., Tilsner J., Torrance L., Savenkov E.I. (2015) Importin-α mediated nucleolar localisation of potato mop-top virus TRIPLE GENE BLOCK1 (TGB1) protein facilitates virus systemic movement, whereas TGB1 self-interaction is required for cell-to-cell movement in Nicotiana benthamiana. Plant Physiology, 167: 738-752.

Solovyev A. G. and Savenkov E. I. (2014) Factors involved in systemic transport of plant RNA viruses: the emerging role of the nucleus. Journal of Experimental Botany, 65: 1689-1697.

Lukhovitskaya N. I., Vitukuri R. R., Sama I., Thaduri S., Solovyev A. G., Savenkov E. I. (2014) A viral transcription factor exhibits antiviral RNA silencing suppression activity independent of its nuclear localization. Journal of General Virology, 95: 2831-2837.

Lukhovitskaya I., Leshchiner A.D., Boddeti S.K., Thaduri S., Solovyev A.G., Savenkov E.I. (2013) An RNA virus-encoded zinc-finger protein acts as a plant transcription factor and induces a regulator of cell size and proliferation in two tobacco species. The Plant Cell, 25: 960-973.

Lukhovitskaya N.I., Thaduri S., Garushyants S.K., Torrance L., Savenkov E.I. (2013) Deciphering the mechanism of defective interfering RNA (DI RNA) biogenesis reveals that a viral protein and the DI RNA act antagonistically in virus infection. Journal of Virology, 87: 6091-6103.