Extreme Diversity in the Regulation of Ndt80-Like Transcription Factors in Fungi.
ABSTRACT: The Saccharomyces cerevisiae Ndt80 protein is the founding member of a class of p53-like transcription factors that is known as the NDT80/PhoG-like DNA-binding family. The number of NDT80-like genes in different fungi is highly variable and their roles, which have been examined in only a few species, include regulation of meiosis, sexual development, biofilm formation, drug resistance, virulence, the response to nutrient stress and programmed cell death. The protein kinase Ime2 regulates the single NDT80 gene present in S. cerevisiae. In this study we used a genetic approach to investigate whether the Aspergillus nidulans Ime2 homolog, ImeB, and/or protein kinases MpkC, PhoA and PhoB regulate the two NDT80-like genes (xprG and ndtA) in A. nidulans. Disruption of imeB, but not mpkC, phoA or phoB, led to increased extracellular protease activity and a defect in mycotoxin production similar to the xprG1 gain-of-function mutation. Quantitative RT-PCR showed that ImeB is a negative regulator of xprG expression and XprG is a negative regulator of xprG and ndtA expression. Thus, in contrast to Ime2, which is a positive regulator of NDT80 in S. cerevisiae, ImeB is a negative regulator as in Neurospora crassa. However, the ability of Ndt80 to autoregulate NDT80 is conserved in A. nidulans though the autoregulatory effect is negative rather than positive. Unlike N. crassa, a null mutation in imeB does not circumvent the requirement for XprG or NdtA. These results show that the regulatory activities of Ime2 and Ndt80-like proteins display an extraordinarily level of evolutionary flexibility.
Project description:Meiosis is a highly regulated process in eukaryotic species. The filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa has been shown to be missing homologs of a number of meiotic initiation genes conserved in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, but has three homologs of the well-characterized middle meiotic transcriptional regulator NDT80. In this study, we evaluated the role of all three NDT80 homologs in the formation of female reproductive structures, sexual development, and meiosis. We found that none of the NDT80 homologs were required for meiosis and that even the triple mutant was unaffected. However, strains containing mutations in NCU09915 (fsd-1) were defective in female sexual development and ascospore maturation. vib-1 was a major regulator of protoperithecial development in N. crassa, and double mutants carrying deletions of both vib-1 (NCU03725) and fsd-1 exhibited a synergistic effect on the timing of female reproductive structure (protoperithecia) formation. We further evaluated the role of the N. crassa homolog of IME2, a kinase involved in initiation of meiosis in S. cerevisiae. Strains containing mutations in ime-2 showed unregulated development of protoperithecia. Genetic analysis indicated that mutations in vib-1 were epistatic to ime-2, suggesting that IME-2 may negatively regulate VIB-1 activity. Our data indicate that the IME2/NDT80 pathway is not involved in meiosis in N. crassa, but rather regulates the formation of female reproductive structures.
Project description:The Aspergillus nidulans xprG gene encodes a putative transcriptional activator that is a member of the Ndt80 family in the p53-like superfamily of proteins. Previous studies have shown that XprG controls the production of extracellular proteases in response to starvation. We undertook transcriptional profiling to investigate whether XprG has a wider role as a global regulator of the carbon nutrient stress response. Our microarray data showed that the expression of a large number of genes, including genes involved in secondary metabolism, development, high-affinity glucose uptake and autolysis, were altered in an xprG ? null mutant. Many of these genes are known to be regulated in response to carbon starvation. We confirmed that sterigmatocystin and penicillin production is reduced in xprG (-) mutants. The loss of fungal mass and secretion of pigments that accompanies fungal autolysis in response to nutrient depletion was accelerated in an xprG1 gain-of-function mutant and decreased or absent in an xprG (-) mutant. The results support the hypothesis that XprG plays a major role in the response to carbon limitation and that nutrient sensing may represent one of the ancestral roles for the p53-like superfamily. Disruption of the AN6015 gene, which encodes a second Ndt80-like protein, showed that it is required for sexual reproduction in A. nidulans.
Project description:Unlike Pho85 of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the highly related PHOA cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) of Aspergillus nidulans plays no role in regulation of enzymes involved in phosphorous acquisition but instead modulates differentiation in response to environmental conditions, including limited phosphorous. Like PHO85, Aspergillus phoA is a nonessential gene. However, we find that expression of dominant-negative PHOA inhibits growth, suggesting it may have an essential but redundant function. Supporting this we have identified another cyclin-dependent kinase, PHOB, which is 77% identical to PHOA. Deletion of phoB causes no phenotype, even under phosphorous-limited growth conditions. To investigate the function of phoA/phoB, double mutants were selected from a cross of strains containing null alleles and by generating a temperature-sensitive allele of phoA in a deltaphoB background. Double-deleted ascospores were able to germinate but had a limited capacity for nuclear division, suggesting a cell cycle defect. Longer germination revealed morphological defects. The temperature-sensitive phoA allele caused both nuclear division and polarity defects at restrictive temperature, which could be complemented by expression of mammalian CDK5. Therefore, an essential function exists in A. nidulans for the Pho85-like kinase pair PHOA and PHOB, which may involve cell cycle control and morphogenesis.
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:Meiotic recombination plays a critical role in sexual reproduction by creating crossovers between homologous chromosomes. These crossovers, along with sister chromatid cohesion, connect homologs to enable proper segregation at Meiosis I. Recombination is initiated by programmed double strand breaks (DSBs) at particular regions of the genome. The meiotic recombination checkpoint uses meiosis-specific modifications to the DSB-induced DNA damage response to provide time to convert these breaks into interhomolog crossovers by delaying entry into Meiosis I until the DSBs have been repaired. The meiosis-specific kinase, Mek1, is a key regulator of meiotic recombination pathway choice, as well as being required for the meiotic recombination checkpoint. The major target of this checkpoint is the meiosis-specific transcription factor, Ndt80, which is essential to express genes necessary for completion of recombination and meiotic progression. The molecular mechanism by which cells monitor meiotic DSB repair to allow entry into Meiosis I with unbroken chromosomes was unknown. Using genetic and biochemical approaches, this work demonstrates that in the presence of DSBs, activated Mek1 binds to Ndt80 and phosphorylates the transcription factor, thus inhibiting DNA binding and preventing Ndt80's function as a transcriptional activator. Repair of DSBs by recombination reduces Mek1 activity, resulting in removal of the inhibitory Mek1 phosphates. Phosphorylation of Ndt80 by the meiosis-specific kinase, Ime2, then results in fully activated Ndt80. Ndt80 upregulates transcription of its own gene, as well as target genes, resulting in prophase exit and progression through meiosis.
Project description:Bacillus subtilis has an alkaline phosphatase (APase) gene family composed of at least four genes. All members of this gene family are expressed postexponentially, either in response to phosphate starvation or sporulation induction or, in some cases, in response to both. The phoA gene (formerly called phoAIV) and the phoB gene (formerly called phoAIII) products have both been isolated from phosphate-starved cells, and a mutation in either gene decreased the total APase expressed under phosphate starvation conditions. Data presented here show that a phoA phoB double mutant reduced APase production during phosphate starvation by 98%, indicating that these two genes are responsible for most of the APase activity during phosphate-limited growth. The promoter for phoA was cloned and used, with the phoB promoter, to examine phosphate regulation in B. subtilis. phoA-lacZ reporter gene assays showed that the expression of the phoA gene commences as the culture enters stationary phase as a result of limiting phosphate concentrations in the growth medium, thereby mimicking the pattern of total APase expression. Induction persists for approximately 2 h and is then turned off. phoA is transcribed from a single promoter which initiates transcription 19 bp before the translation initiation codon. PhoP and PhoR are members of the two-component signal transduction system believed to regulate gene expression in response to limiting phosphate. The expression of phoA or phoB in response to phosphate starvation was equally dependent on PhoP and PhoR for induction. lacZ-promoter fusions showed that both phoA and phoB were hyperinduced, or failed to turn off induction after 2 h, in a spo0A strain of B. subtilis. Mutations in genes which are required for phosphorylation of Spo0A, spo0B and spo0F, also resulted in phoA and phoB hyperinduction, suggesting that phosphorylation of Spo0A is required for the repression of both APases in wild-type strains. The hyperinduction of either APase gene in a spo0A strain was dependent on PhoP and PhoR. Analysis of a phoP-lacZ promoter fusion showed that the phoPR operon is hyperinduced in a spo0A mutant strain, suggesting that Spo0A approximately P represses APases by repressing phoPR transcription. We propose a model for PHO regulation in B. subtilis whereby the phoPR operon is transcribed in response to limiting phosphate concentration, resulting in activation of the PHO regulon transcription, including transcription of phoA and phoB. When the phosphate response fails to overcome the nutrient deficiency, signals for phosphorylation of Spo0A result in production of Spo0A approximately P, which represses transcription of phoPR, thereby repressing synthesis of the PHO regulon.
Project description:UNLABELLED:Understanding cellular responses to environmental stimuli requires not only the knowledge of specific regulatory components but also the quantitative characterization of the magnitude and timing of regulatory events. The two-component system is one of the major prokaryotic signaling schemes and is the focus of extensive interest in quantitative modeling and investigation of signaling dynamics. Here we report how the binding affinity of the PhoB two-component response regulator (RR) to target promoters impacts the level and timing of expression of PhoB-regulated genes. Information content has often been used to assess the degree of conservation for transcription factor (TF)-binding sites. We show that increasing the information content of PhoB-binding sites in designed phoA promoters increased the binding affinity and that the binding affinity and concentration of phosphorylated PhoB (PhoB~P) together dictate the level and timing of expression of phoA promoter variants. For various PhoB-regulated promoters with distinct promoter architectures, expression levels appear not to be correlated with TF-binding affinities, in contrast to the intuitive and oversimplified assumption that promoters with higher affinity for a TF tend to have higher expression levels. However, the expression timing of the core set of PhoB-regulated genes correlates well with the binding affinity of PhoB~P to individual promoters and the temporal hierarchy of gene expression appears to be related to the function of gene products during the phosphate starvation response. Modulation of the information content and binding affinity of TF-binding sites may be a common strategy for temporal programming of the expression profile of RR-regulated genes. IMPORTANCE:A single TF often orchestrates the expression of multiple genes in response to environmental stimuli. It is not clear how different TF-binding sites within the regulon dictate the expression profile. Our studies of Escherichia coli PhoB, a response regulator that controls expression of a core set of phosphate assimilation genes in response to phosphate starvation, showed that expression levels of PhoB-regulated genes are under sophisticated control and do not follow a simple correlation with the binding affinity of PhoB~P to individual promoters. However, the expression timing correlates with the PhoB-binding affinity and gene functions. Genes involved in direct Pi uptake contain high-affinity sites and are transcribed earlier than genes involved in phosphorus scavenging. This illustrates an elaborate mechanism of temporally programmed gene expression, even for nondevelopmental pathways.
Project description:We addressed the question of whether Aspergillus nidulans has more than one cyclin-dependent kinase gene and identified such a gene, phoA, encoding two PSTAIRE-containing kinases (PHOAM1 and PHOAM47) that probably result from alternative pre-mRNA splicing. PHOAM47 is 66% identical to Saccharomyces cerevisiae Pho85. The function of this gene was studied using phoA null mutants. It functions in a developmental response to phosphorus-limited growth but has no effect on the regulation of enzymes involved in phosphorus acquisition. Aspergillus nidulans shows both asexual and sexual reproduction involving temporal elaboration of different specific cell types. We demonstrate that developmental decisions in confluent cultures depend upon both the initial phosphorus concentration and the inoculation density and that these factors influence development through phoA. In the most impressive cases, absence of phoA resulted in a switch from asexual to sexual development (at pH 8), or the absence of development altogether (at pH 6). The phenotype of phoA deletion strains appears to be specific for phosphorus limitation. We propose that PHOA functions to help integrate environmental signals with developmental decisions to allow ordered differentiation of specific cell types in A.nidulans under varying growth conditions. The results implicate a putative cyclin-dependent kinase in the control of development.
Project description:The contribution of stress protein duplication and deletion events to the evolution of the Aspergilli was studied. We performed a large-scale homology analysis of stress proteins and generated and analysed three stress defence system models based on Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Schizosaccharomyces pombe and Aspergillus nidulans. Although both yeast-based and A. nidulans-based models were suitable to trace evolutionary changes, the A. nidulans-based model performed better in mapping stress protein radiations. The strong Mantel correlation found between the positions of species in the phylogenetic tree on the one hand and either in the A. nidulans-based or S. cerevisiae-based models on the other hand demonstrated that stress protein expansions and reductions contributed significantly to the evolution of the Aspergilli. Interestingly, stress tolerance attributes correlated well with the number of orthologs only for a few stress proteins. Notable examples are Ftr1 iron permease and Fet3 ferro-O2-oxidoreductase, elements of the reductive iron assimilation pathway, in the S. cerevisiae-based model, as well as MpkC, a HogA-like mitogen activated protein kinase in the A. nidulans-based model. In the case of the iron assimilation proteins, the number of orthologs showed a positive correlation with H2O2-induced stress tolerance while the number of MpkC orthologs correlated positively with Congo Red induced cell wall stress, sorbitol induced osmotic stress and H2O2 induced oxidative stress tolerances. For most stress proteins, changes in the number of orthologs did not correlate well with any stress tolerance attributes. As a consequence, stress tolerance patterns of the studied Aspergilli did not correlate with either the sets of stress response proteins in general or with the phylogeny of the species studied. These observations suggest that stress protein duplication and deletion events significantly contributed to the evolution of stress tolerance attributes of Aspergilli. In contrast, there are other processes, which may counterbalance the effects of stress gene duplications or deletions including (i) alterations in the structures of stress proteins leading to changes in their biological activities, (ii) varying biosynthesis of stress proteins, (iii) rewiring stress response regulatory networks or even (iv) acquiring new stress response genes by horizontal gene transfer. All these multilevel changes are indispensable for the successful adaptation of filamentous fungi to altering environmental conditions, especially when these organisms are entering new ecological niches.
Project description:The Aspergillus nidulans flbD gene encodes a protein with a Myb-like DNA-binding domain that is proposed to act in concert with other developmental regulators to control initiation of conidiophore development. We have identified a Neurospora crassa gene called rca-1 (regulator of conidiation in Aspergillus) based on its sequence similarity to flbD. We found that N. crassa rca-1 can complement the conidiation defect of an A. nidulans flbD mutant and that induced expression of rca-1 caused conidiation in submerged A. nidulans cultures just as was previously observed for overexpression of flbD. Thus, the N. crassa gene appears to be a functional homologue of A. nidulans flbD and this is the first demonstration of functional complementation of an A. nidulans sporulation defect using a gene from an evolutionarily distant fungus. However, deletion of the rca-1 gene in N. crassa had no major effect on growth rate, macroconidiation, microconidiation, or ascospore formation. The only phenotype displayed by the rca-1 mutant was straight or counterclockwise hyphal growth rather than the clockwise spiral growth observed for wild type. Thus, if rca-1 is involved in N. crassa development, its role is subtle or redundant.