RNA-seq of life stages of the oomycete Phytophthora infestans reveals dynamic changes in metabolic, signal transduction, and pathogenesis genes and a major role for calcium signaling in development.
ABSTRACT: The oomycete Phytophthora infestans causes the devastating late blight diseases of potato and tomato. P. infestans uses spores for dissemination and infection, like many other filamentous eukaryotic plant pathogens. The expression of a subset of its genes during spore formation and germination were studied previously, but comprehensive genome-wide data have not been available.RNA-seq was used to profile hyphae, sporangia, sporangia undergoing zoosporogenesis, motile zoospores, and germinated cysts of P. infestans. Parallel studies of two isolates generated robust expression calls for 16,000 of 17,797 predicted genes, with about 250 transcribed in one isolate but not the other. The largest changes occurred in the transition from hyphae to sporangia, when >4200 genes were up-regulated. More than 1350 of these were induced >100-fold, accounting for 26% of total mRNA. Genes encoding calcium-binding proteins, cation channels, signaling proteins, and flagellar proteins were over-represented in genes up-regulated in sporangia. Proteins associated with pathogenicity were transcribed in waves with subclasses induced during zoosporogenesis, in zoospores, or in germinated cysts. Genes involved in most metabolic pathways were down-regulated upon sporulation and reactivated during cyst germination, although there were exceptions such as DNA replication, where transcripts peaked in zoospores. Inhibitor studies indicated that the transcription of two-thirds of genes induced during zoosporogenesis relied on calcium signaling. A sporulation-induced protein kinase was shown to bind a constitutive G?-like protein, which contributed to fitness based on knock-down analysis.Spore formation and germination involves the staged expression of a large subset of the transcriptome, commensurate with the importance of spores in the life cycle. A comparison of the RNA-seq results with the older microarray data indicated that information is now available for about twice the number of genes than before. Analyses based on function revealed dynamic changes in genes involved in pathogenicity, metabolism, and signaling, with diversity in expression observed within members of multigene families and between isolates. The effects of calcium signaling, a spore-induced protein kinase, and an interacting G?-like protein were also demonstrated experimentally. The results reveal aspects of oomycete biology that underly their success as pathogens and potential targets for crop protection chemicals.
Project description:A study of the effect of inhibitors on zoospore development in Phytophthora infestans demonstrated the involvement of protein kinases and calcium and led to the discovery of a gene induced during zoosporogenesis that encoded a protein resembling Ca2+- and calmodulin-regulated serine/threonine protein kinases. The calcium channel blocker verapamil and the calmodulin antagonist trifluoroperazine inhibited zoosporogenesis and encystment. The protein kinase inhibitors K-252a and KN-93 inhibited zoospore release, encystment, and cyst germination, and K-252a reduced zoospore viability. In contrast, the inhibitors had minor or no effects on sporangia directly germinating in media. Spurred by these findings, a survey of putative protein kinase genes was performed to identify any that were up-regulated during zoosporogenesis. A kinase-encoding gene was identified for which mRNA accumulation was first detected soon after chilling sporangia in water, conditions that induce sporangial cytoplasm to cleave and release zoospores. The transcript persisted in motile zoospores and in germinated cysts but was not detected in other tissues, including hyphae, hyphae placed in water, or directly germinating sporangia. The structure of the predicted protein was novel, as its C-terminal region, which binds calmodulin in related proteins, was unusually short. Concentrations of actinomycin D previously used in experiments that suggested that de novo transcription was not needed for zoosporogenesis or encystment only partially inhibited transcription of the kinase gene, probably due to poor uptake into sporangia.
Project description:Most eukaryotic pathogens have complex life cycles in which gene expression networks orchestrate the formation of cells specialized for dissemination or host colonization. In the oomycete Phytophthora infestans, the potato late blight pathogen, major shifts in mRNA profiles during developmental transitions were identified using microarrays. We used those data with search algorithms to discover about 100 motifs that are over-represented in promoters of genes up-regulated in hyphae, sporangia, sporangia undergoing zoosporogenesis, swimming zoospores, or germinated cysts forming appressoria (infection structures). Most of the putative stage-specific transcription factor binding sites (TFBSs) thus identified had features typical of TFBSs such as position or orientation bias, palindromy, and conservation in related species. Each of six motifs tested in P. infestans transformants using the GUS reporter gene conferred the expected stage-specific expression pattern, and several were shown to bind nuclear proteins in gel-shift assays. Motifs linked to the appressoria-forming stage, including a functionally validated TFBS, were over-represented in promoters of genes encoding effectors and other pathogenesis-related proteins. To understand how promoter and genome architecture influence expression, we also mapped transcription patterns to the P. infestans genome assembly. Adjacent genes were not typically induced in the same stage, including genes transcribed in opposite directions from small intergenic regions, but co-regulated gene pairs occurred more than expected by random chance. These data help illuminate the processes regulating development and pathogenesis, and will enable future attempts to purify the cognate transcription factors.
Project description:The oomycete genus Phytophthora includes many of the world's most destructive plant pathogens, which are generally disseminated by asexual sporangia. To identify factors relevant to the biology of these propagules, genes induced in sporangia of the potato late blight pathogen Phytophthora infestans were isolated using cDNA macroarrays. Of approximately 1,900 genes known to be expressed in sporangia, 61 were up-regulated >5-fold in sporangia versus hyphae based on the arrays, including 17 that were induced >100-fold. A subset were also activated by starvation and in a nonsporulating mutant. mRNAs of some genes declined in abundance after germination, while others persisted through the germinated zoospore cyst stage. Functions were predicted for about three-quarters of the genes, including potential regulators (protein kinases and phosphatases, transcription factors, and G-protein subunits), transporters, and metabolic enzymes. Predominant among the last were several dehydrogenases, especially a highly expressed sorbitol dehydrogenase that accounted for 3% of the mRNA. Sorbitol dehydrogenase activity also rose during sporulation and several stress treatments, paralleling the expression of the gene. Another interesting metabolic enzyme resembled creatine kinases, which previously were reported only in animals and trypanosomes. These results provide insight into the transcriptional and cellular processes occurring in sporangia and identify potential targets for crop protection strategies.
Project description:Much of the pathogenic success of Phytophthora infestans, the potato and tomato late blight agent, relies on its ability to generate from mycelia large amounts of sporangia, which release zoospores that encyst and form infection structures. To better understand these critical stages, Affymetrix GeneChips based on 15,650 unigenes were designed and used to profile the life cycle, through an analysis of RNA from hyphae, sporangia, cleaving sporangia, motile zoospores, and germinated zoospore cysts. Keywords: Developmental study Overall design: Gene expression in non-sporulating hyphae, asexual sporangia, sporangia undergoing cleavage, swimming zoospores, and germinated cysts containing appressoria were characterized using isolate 88069. Several strategies controlled for experimental error. Firstly, two replicate hybridizations were used for each tissue type. Secondly, RNAs for the two replicates were prepared by research groups in North America and/or Europe. Thirdly, RNA for each hybridization was pooled from two or three independent cultures made by that group. Finally, before using an RNA sample in an experiment the expression of selected well-characterized genes was measured to ensure that the tissue was properly prepared.
Project description:Much of the pathogenic success of Phytophthora infestans, the potato and tomato late blight agent, relies on its ability to generate from mycelia large amounts of sporangia, which release zoospores that encyst and form infection structures. To better understand these critical stages, Affymetrix GeneChips based on 15,650 unigenes were designed and used to profile the life cycle, through an analysis of RNA from hyphae, sporangia, cleaving sporangia, motile zoospores, and germinated zoospore cysts. Keywords: Developmental study Gene expression in non-sporulating hyphae, asexual sporangia, sporangia undergoing cleavage, swimming zoospores, and germinated cysts containing appressoria were characterized using isolate 88069. Several strategies controlled for experimental error. Firstly, two replicate hybridizations were used for each tissue type. Secondly, RNAs for the two replicates were prepared by research groups in North America and/or Europe. Thirdly, RNA for each hybridization was pooled from two or three independent cultures made by that group. Finally, before using an RNA sample in an experiment the expression of selected well-characterized genes was measured to ensure that the tissue was properly prepared.
Project description:A gene from Phytophthora infestans that was previously identified as being induced during the development of sexual spores was also found to be active during asexual sporulation. The gene, M90, was expressed as a 3.1-kb primary transcript containing two introns and was predicted to encode a member of the Puf family of translational regulators. The protein showed up to 51% amino acid identity to other Puf proteins within its 353-amino-acid RNA-binding domain. Little similarity extended beyond this region, as noted for other members of the family. Expression of M90 was measured by using RNA blots and transformants of P. infestans expressing a fusion between the M90 promoter and the beta-glucuronidase (GUS) gene. A 1.3-kb promoter fragment conferred the normal M90 pattern of expression to the GUS reporter in transformants. In matings, expression was first detected in male and female gametangial initials and persisted in mature oospores. Expression was also observed in hyphal tips just prior to asexual sporulation, in sporangiophores, in mature sporangia, and in zoospores. The signal quickly disappeared once spores made the transition to hyphae after germination. Nutrient limitation did not induce the gene. Potential roles for a translational regulator during both sexual development and asexual sporulation are discussed.
Project description:Life cycle progression in eukaryotic microbes is often influenced by environment. In the oomycete Phytophthora infestans, which causes late blight on potato and tomato, sporangia have been reported to form mostly at night. By growing P. infestans under different light regimes at constant temperature and humidity, we show that light contributes to the natural pattern of sporulation by delaying sporulation until the following dark period. However, illumination does not permanently block sporulation or strongly affect the total number of sporangia that ultimately form. Based on measurements of sporulation-induced genes such as those encoding protein kinase Pks1 and Myb transcription factors Myb2R1 and Myb2R3, it appears that most spore-associated transcripts start to rise four to eight hours before sporangia appear. Their mRNA levels oscillate with the light/dark cycle and increase with the amount of sporangia. An exception to this pattern of expression is Myb2R4, which is induced several hours before the other genes and declines after cultures start to sporulate. Transformants over-expressing Myb2R4 produce twice the number of sporangia and ten-fold higher levels of Myb2R1 mRNA than wild-type, and chromatin immunoprecipitation showed that Myb2R4 binds the Myb2R1 promoter in vivo. Myb2R4 thus appears to be an early regulator of sporulation. We attempted to silence eight Myb genes by DNA-directed RNAi, but succeeded only with Myb2R3, which resulted in suppressed sporulation. Ectopic expression studies of seven Myb genes revealed that over-expression frequently impaired vegetative growth, and in the case of Myb3R6 interfered with sporangia dormancy. We observed that the degree of silencing induced by a hairpin construct was correlated with its copy number, and ectopic expression was often unstable due to epigenetic silencing and transgene excision.
Project description:For the soybean pathogen Phytophthora sojae, chemotaxis of zoospores to isoflavones is believed to be critical for recognition of the host and for initiating infection. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying this chemotaxis are largely unknown. To investigate the role of G-protein and calcium signaling in chemotaxis, we analyzed the expression of several genes known to be involved in these pathways and selected one that was specifically expressed in sporangia and zoospores but not in mycelium. This gene, named PsGPA1, is a single-copy gene in P. sojae and encodes a G-protein alpha subunit that shares 96% identity in amino acid sequence with that of Phytophthora infestans. To elucidate the function, expression of PsGPA1 was silenced by introducing antisense constructs into P. sojae. PsGPA1 silencing did not disturb hyphal growth or sporulation but severely affected zoospore behavior, including chemotaxis to the soybean isoflavone daidzein. Zoospore encystment and cyst germination were also altered, resulting in the inability of the PsGPA1-silenced mutants to infect soybean. In addition, the expressions of a calmodulin gene, PsCAM1, and two calcium- and calmodulin-dependent protein kinase genes, PsCMK3 and PsCMK4, were increased in the mutant zoospores, suggesting that PsGPA1 negatively regulates the calcium signaling pathways that are likely involved in zoospore chemotaxis.
Project description:Transcription factors of the basic leucine zipper (bZIP) family control development and stress responses in eukaryotes. To date, only one bZIP has been described in any oomycete; oomycetes are members of the stramenopile kingdom. In this study, we describe the identification of 38 bZIPs from the Phytophthora infestans genome. Half contain novel substitutions in the DNA-binding domain at a site that in other eukaryotes is reported to always be Asn. Interspecific comparisons indicated that the novel substitutions (usually Cys, but also Val and Tyr) arose after oomycetes diverged from other stramenopiles. About two-thirds of P. infestans bZIPs show dynamic changes in mRNA levels during the life cycle, with many of the genes being upregulated in sporangia, zoospores, or germinated zoospore cysts. One bZIP with the novel Cys substitution was shown to reside in the nucleus throughout growth and development. Using stable gene silencing, the functions of eight bZIPs with the Cys substitution were tested. All but one were found to play roles in protecting P. infestans from hydrogen peroxide-induced injury, and it is proposed that the novel Cys substitution serves as a redox sensor. A ninth bZIP lacking the novel Asn-to-Cys substitution, but having Cys nearby, was also shown through silencing to contribute to defense against peroxide. Little effect on asexual development, plant pathogenesis, or resistance to osmotic stress was observed in transformants silenced for any of the nine bZIPs.