VIB-1 is required for expression of genes necessary for programmed cell death in Neurospora crassa.
ABSTRACT: Nonself recognition during somatic growth is an essential and ubiquitous phenomenon in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic species. In filamentous fungi, nonself recognition is also important during vegetative growth. Hyphal fusion between genetically dissimilar individuals results in rejection of heterokaryon formation and in programmed cell death of the fusion compartment. In filamentous fungi, such as Neurospora crassa, nonself recognition and heterokaryon incompatibility (HI) are regulated by genetic differences at het loci. In N. crassa, mutations at the vib-1 locus suppress nonself recognition and HI mediated by genetic differences at het-c/pin-c, mat, and un-24/het-6. vib-1 is a homolog of Saccharomyces cerevisiae NDT80, which is a transcriptional activator of genes during meiosis. For this study, we determined that vib-1 encodes a nuclear protein and showed that VIB-1 localization varies during asexual reproduction and during HI. vib-1 is required for the expression of genes involved in nonself recognition and HI, including pin-c, tol, and het-6; all of these genes encode proteins containing a HET domain. vib-1 is also required for the production of downstream effectors associated with HI, including the production of extracellular proteases upon carbon and nitrogen starvation. Our data support a model in which mechanisms associated with starvation and nonself recognition/HI are interconnected. VIB-1 is a major regulator of responses to nitrogen and carbon starvation and is essential for the expression of genes involved in nonself recognition and death in N. crassa.
Project description:Nonself recognition in filamentous fungi is conferred by genetic differences at het (heterokaryon incompatibility) loci. When individuals that differ in het specificity undergo hyphal fusion, the heterokaryon undergoes a programmed cell death reaction or is highly unstable. In Neurospora crassa, three allelic specificities at the het-c locus are conferred by a highly polymorphic domain. This domain shows trans-species polymorphisms indicative of balancing selection, consistent with the role of het loci in nonself recognition. We determined that a locus closely linked to het-c, called pin-c (partner for incompatibility with het-c) was required for het-c nonself recognition and heterokaryon incompatibility (HI). The pin-c alleles in isolates that differ in het-c specificity were extremely polymorphic. Heterokaryon and transformation tests showed that nonself recognition was mediated by synergistic nonallelic interactions between het-c and pin-c, while allelic interactions at het-c increased the severity of the HI phenotype. The pin-c locus encodes a protein containing a HET domain; predicted proteins containing HET domains are frequent in filamentous ascomycete genomes. These data suggest that nonallelic interactions may be important in nonself recognition in filamentous fungi and that proteins containing a HET domain may be a key factor in these interactions.
Project description:Heterokaryon incompatibility (HI) is a nonself recognition phenomenon occurring in filamentous fungi that is important for limiting resource plundering and restricting viral transfer between strains. Nonself recognition and HI occurs during hyphal fusion between strains that differ at het loci. If two strains undergo hyphal fusion, but differ in allelic specificity at a het locus, the fusion cell is compartmentalized and undergoes a rapid programmed cell death (PCD). Incompatible heterokaryons show a macroscopic phenotype of slow growth and diminished conidiation, and a microscopic phenotype of hyphal compartmentation and cell death. To understand processes associated with HI and PCD, we used whole-genome microarrays for Neurospora crassa to assess transcriptional differences associated with induction of HI mediated by differences in het-c pin-c haplotype. Our data show that HI is a dynamic and transcriptionally active process. The production of reactive oxygen species is implicated in the execution of HI and PCD in N. crassa, as are several genes involved in phosphatidylinositol and calcium signalling pathways. However, genes encoding mammalian homologues of caspases or apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF) are not required for HI or programmed cell death. These data indicate that PCD during HI occurs via a novel and possibly fungal-specific mechanism, making this pathway an attractive drug target for control of fungal infections.
Project description:Self/nonself discrimination is an essential feature for pathogen recognition and graft rejection and is a ubiquitous phenomenon in many organisms. Filamentous fungi, such as Neurospora crassa, provide a model for analyses of population genetics/evolution of self/nonself recognition loci due to their haploid nature, small genomes and excellent genetic/genomic resources. In N. crassa, nonself discrimination during vegetative growth is determined by 11 heterokaryon incompatibility (het) loci. Cell fusion between strains that differ in allelic specificity at any of these het loci triggers a rapid programmed cell death response.In this study, we evaluated the evolution, population genetics and selective mechanisms operating at a nonself recognition complex consisting of two closely linked loci, het-c (NCU03493) and pin-c (NCU03494). The genomic position of pin-c next to het-c is unique to Neurospora/Sordaria species, and originated by gene duplication after divergence from other species within the Sordariaceae. The het-c pin-c alleles in N. crassa are in severe linkage disequilibrium and consist of three haplotypes, het-c1/pin-c1, het-c2/pin-c2 and het-c3/pin-c3, which are equally frequent in population samples and exhibit trans-species polymorphisms. The absence of recombinant haplotypes is correlated with divergence of the het-c/pin-c intergenic sequence. Tests for positive and balancing selection at het-c and pin-c support the conclusion that both of these loci are under non-neutral balancing selection; other regions of both genes appear to be under positive selection. Our data show that the het-c2/pin-c2 haplotype emerged by a recombination event between the het-c1/pin-c1 and het-c3/pin-c3 approximately 3-12 million years ago.These results support models by which loci that confer nonself discrimination form by the association of polymorphic genes with genes containing HET domains. Distinct allele classes can emerge by recombination and positive selection and are subsequently maintained by balancing selection and divergence of intergenic sequence resulting in recombination blocks between haplotypes.
Project description:In filamentous fungi, het loci (for heterokaryon incompatibility) are believed to regulate self/nonself-recognition during vegetative growth. As filamentous fungi grow, hyphal fusion occurs within an individual colony to form a network. Hyphal fusion can occur also between different individuals to form a heterokaryon, in which genetically distinct nuclei occupy a common cytoplasm. However, heterokaryotic cells are viable only if the individuals involved have identical alleles at all het loci. One het locus, het-c, has been characterized at the molecular level in Neurospora crassa and encodes a glycine-rich protein. In an effort to understand the role of this locus in filamentous fungi, we chose to study its evolution by analyzing het-c sequence variability in species within Neurospora and related genera. We determined that the het-c locus was polymorphic in a field population of N. crassa with close to equal frequency of each of the three allelic types. Different species and even genera within the Sordariaceae shared het-c polymorphisms, indicating that these polymorphisms originated in an ancestral species. Finally, an analysis of the het-c specificity region shows a high occurrence of nonsynonymous substitution. The persistence of allelic lineages, the nearly equal allelic distribution within populations, and the high frequency of nonsynonymous substitutions in the het-c specificity region suggest that balancing selection has operated to maintain allelic diversity at het-c. Het-c shares this particular evolutionary characteristic of departing from neutrality with other self/nonself-recognition systems such as major histocompatibility complex loci in mammals and the S (self-incompatibility) locus in angiosperms.
Project description:The capacity for nonself recognition is a ubiquitous and essential aspect of biology. In filamentous fungi, nonself recognition during vegetative growth is believed to be mediated by genetic differences at heterokaryon incompatibility (het) loci. Filamentous fungi are capable of undergoing hyphal fusion to form mycelial networks and with other individuals to form vegetative heterokaryons, in which genetically distinct nuclei occupy a common cytoplasm. In Neurospora crassa, 11 het loci have been identified that affect the viability of such vegetative heterokaryons. The het-c locus has at least three mutually incompatible alleles, termed het-c(OR), het-c(PA), and het-c(GR). Hyphal fusion between strains that are of alternative het-c specificity results in vegetative heterokaryons that are aconidial and which show growth inhibition and hyphal compartmentation and death. A 34- to 48-amino-acid variable domain, which is dissimilar in HET-C(OR), HET-C(PA), and HET-C(GR), confers allelic specificity. To assess requirements for allelic specificity, we constructed chimeras between the het-c variable domain from 24 different isolates that displayed amino acid and insertion or deletion variations and determined their het-c specificity by introduction into N. crassa. We also constructed a number of artificial alleles that contained novel het-c specificity domains. By this method, we identified four additional and novel het-c specificities. Our results indicate that amino acid and length variations within the insertion or deletion motif are the primary determinants for conferring het-c allelic specificity. These results provide a molecular model for nonself recognition in multicellular eucaryotes.
Project description:Nonself recognition is exemplified in the fungal kingdom by the regulation of cell fusion events between genetically different individuals (heterokaryosis). The het-6 locus is one of approximately 10 loci that control heterokaryon incompatibility during vegetative growth of N. crassa. Previously, it was found that het-6-associated incompatibility in Oak Ridge (OR) strains involves two contiguous genes, het-6 and un-24. The OR allele of either gene causes "strong" incompatibility (cell death) when transformed into Panama (PA)-background strains. Several remarkable features of the locus include the nature of these incompatibility genes (het-6 is a member of a repetitive gene family and un-24 also encodes the large subunit of ribonucleotide reductase) and the observation that un-24 and het-6 are in severe linkage disequilibrium. Here, we identify "weak" (slow, aberrant growth) incompatibility activities by un-24PA and het-6PA when transformed separately into OR strains, whereas together they exhibit an additive, strong effect. We synthesized strains with the new allelic combinations un-24PA het-6OR and un-24OR het-6PA, which are not found in nature. These strains grow normally and have distinct nonself recognition capabilities but may have reduced fitness. Comparing the Oak Ridge and Panama het-6 regions revealed a paracentric inversion, the architecture of which provides insights into the evolution of the un-24-het-6 gene complex.
Project description:Kinase cascades and the modification of proteins by phosphorylation are major mechanisms for cell signaling and communication, and evolution of these signaling pathways can contribute to new developmental or environmental response pathways. The Saccharomyces cerevisiae kinase Ime2 has been well characterized for its role in meiosis. However, recent studies have revealed alternative functions for Ime2 in both S. cerevisiae and other fungi. In the filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa, the IME2 homolog (ime-2) is not required for meiosis. Here we determine that ime-2 interacts genetically with a transcription factor vib-1 during nonself recognition and programmed cell death (PCD). Mutations in vib-1 (?vib-1) suppress PCD due to nonself recognition events; however, a ?vib-1 ?ime-2 mutant restored wild-type levels of cell death. A role for ime-2 in the post-translational processing and localization of a mitochondrial matrix protein was identified, which may implicate mitochondria in N. crassa nonself recognition and PCD. Further, ?vib-1 strains do not produce extracellular proteases, but protease secretion reverted to near wild-type levels in a ?vib-1 ?ime-2 strain. Mass spectrometry analysis revealed that the VIB-1 protein is phosphorylated at several sites, including a site that matches the IME-2 consensus. The genetic and biochemical data for ime-2 and vib-1 indicate that IME-2 is a negative regulator of VIB-1 and suggest parallel negative regulation by IME-2 of a cell death pathway in N. crassa that functions in concert with the VIB-1 cell death pathway. Thus, IME2 kinase function has evolved following the divergence of S. cerevisiae and N. crassa and provides insight into the evolution of kinases and their regulatory targets.
Project description:A non-self-recognition system called vegetative incompatibility is ubiquitous in filamentous fungi and is genetically regulated by het loci. Different fungal individuals are unable to form viable heterokaryons if they differ in allelic specificity at a het locus. To identify components of vegetative incompatibility mediated by allelic differences at the het-c locus of Neurospora crassa, we isolated mutants that suppressed phenotypic aspects of het-c vegetative incompatibility. Three deletion mutants were identified; the deletions overlapped each other in an ORF named vib-1 (vegetative incompatibility blocked). Mutations in vib-1 fully relieved growth inhibition and repression of conidiation conferred by het-c vegetative incompatibility and significantly reduced hyphal compartmentation and death rates. The vib-1 mutants displayed a profuse conidiation pattern, suggesting that VIB-1 is a regulator of conidiation. VIB-1 shares a region of similarity to PHOG, a possible phosphate nonrepressible acid phosphatase in Aspergillus nidulans. Native gel analysis of wild-type strains and vib-1 mutants indicated that vib-1 is not the structural gene for nonrepressible acid phosphatase, but rather may regulate nonrepressible acid phosphatase activity.
Project description:Understanding the genetic and molecular bases of the ability to distinguish self from nonself (allorecognition) and mechanisms underlying evolution of allorecognition systems is an important endeavor for understanding cases where it becomes dysfunctional, such as in autoimmune disorders. In filamentous fungi, allorecognition can result in vegetative or heterokaryon incompatibility, which is a type of programmed cell death that occurs following fusion of genetically different cells. Allorecognition is genetically controlled by het loci, with coexpression of any combination of incompatible alleles triggering vegetative incompatibility. Herein, we identified, characterized, and inferred the evolutionary history of candidate het loci in the filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa. As characterized het loci encode proteins carrying an HET domain, we annotated HET domain genes in 25 isolates from a natural population along with the N. crassa reference genome using resequencing data. Because allorecognition systems can be affected by frequency-dependent selection favoring rare alleles (i.e., balancing selection), we mined resequencing data for HET domain loci whose alleles displayed elevated levels of variability, excess of intermediate frequency alleles, and deep gene genealogies. From these analyses, 34 HET domain loci were identified as likely to be under balancing selection. Using transformation, incompatibility assays and genetic analyses, we determined that one of these candidates functioned as a het locus (het-e). The het-e locus has three divergent allelic groups that showed signatures of positive selection, intra- and intergroup recombination, and trans-species polymorphism. Our findings represent a compelling case of balancing selection functioning on multiple alleles across multiple loci potentially involved in allorecognition.
Project description:Non-self-recognition during asexual growth of Neurospora crassa involves restriction of heterokaryon formation via genetic differences at 11 het loci, including mating type. The het-6 locus maps to a 250-kbp region of LGIIL. We used restriction fragment length polymorphisms in progeny with crossovers in the het-6 region and a DNA transformation assay to identify two genes in a 25-kbp region that have vegetative incompatibility activity. The predicted product of one of these genes, which we designate het-6(OR), has three regions of amino acid sequence similarity to the predicted product of the het-e vegetative incompatibility gene in Podospora anserina and to the predicted product of tol, which mediates mating-type vegetative incompatibility in N. crassa. The predicted product of the alternative het-6 allele, HET-6(PA), shares only 68% amino acid identity with HET-6(OR). The second incompatibility gene, un-24(OR), encodes the large subunit of ribonucleotide reductase, which is essential for de novo synthesis of DNA. A region in the carboxyl-terminal portion of UN-24 is associated with incompatibility and is variable between un-24(OR) and the alternative allele un-24(PA). Linkage analysis indicates that the 25-kbp un-24-het-6 region is inherited as a block, suggesting that a nonallelic interaction may occur between un-24 and het-6 and possibly other loci within this region to mediate vegetative incompatibility in the het-6 region of N. crassa.