Pokeweed antiviral protein (PAP) of Phytolacca americana L. (pokeweed) is a single-chain ribosome-inactivating protein (RIP) characterized by its ability to depurinate plant ribosomes. Here, we isolated, cloned, and expressed the ribosome inactivating protein (RIP) gene, designated as pokeweed antiviral protein type 1 (PAP I), from the summer leaves of pokeweed collected from the Black Sea region (Turkey). Our findings presented here provide direct evidence that exogenous application of PAP I causes concentration-dependent inhibition of Zucchini yellow mosaic virus (ZYMV) infection on squash plants. Squash plants were exposed to PAP I protein with and without DMSO for four consecutive days. Regular spraying of approximately 30 kDa recombinant PAP I at 2 mu g mL(-1) concentration prevented treated plants from mechanical virus infection. PAP I showed antiviral activity in 9 plants out of 15 inoculated plants. Remarkably, simultaneous application of PAP, DMSO, and ZYMV did not prevent virus infection, suggesting that PAP did not have any effect on viral RNA. In the absence of ZYMV the purified peptide was not cytotoxic for squash plants, although a reduction of plant size, possibly caused by host ribosome depurination, was observed.