Silencing PsKPP4, a MAP kinase kinase kinase gene, reduces pathogenicity of the stripe rust fungus.
ABSTRACT: Many obligately parasitic pathogens absorb nutrients from host plants via specialized infection structures, called haustoria and infection hyphae, to further colonization and growth in the host plant. In the wheat (Triticum aestivum) stripe rust fungus, Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici (Pst), the mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MAPKK) PsFUZ7 is involved in the regulation of haustorium formation and invasive growth. Here, we functionally characterized PsKPP4 of Pst, which is homologous to the yeast MAPKKK STE11. Similar to the silencing of PsFUZ7, the knockdown of PsKPP4 was detected in the vegetative hyphae and haustoria, resulting in the reduced pathogenicity of Pst. Pst urediniospores treated with the STE11 MAPKKK activation inhibitor produced deformed germ tubes. In addition, overexpression of PsKPP4 in fission yeast resulted in the production of fusiform cells and increased tolerance of yeast cells to oxidative stress. The transformation of PsKPP4 into the mst11 mutant of Magnaporthe oryzae partially restored mst11 function. The PsKPP4 protein contains a sterile alpha motif (SAM), Ras association (RA) and kinase domains, similar to its homologues in other fungi. Yeast two-hybrid assays revealed that the SAM domain is essential for the interaction between PsKPP4 and PsUBC2, a homologue of Ustilago maydis UBC2, known to interact with KPP4, which is associated with the regulation of the Fus3 cascade. Host-induced gene silencing of PsUBC2 reduced the pathogenicity of Pst slightly, indicating that PsUBC2 also plays a minor role in the regulation of the infection pathway of Pst. These observations indicate that PsKPP4, interacting with PsUBC2, may play an important role in the regulation of infection-related morphogenesis in Pst.
Project description:The sterile alpha-motif (SAM) is a protein module approximately 70 residues long and mainly involved in the protein-protein interactions of cell signaling and transcriptional repression. The SAM domain of the yeast MAPKKK Ste11 has a well-folded dimeric structure in solution. Interestingly, the well-folded dimer of the Ste11 SAM undergoes a time-dependent self-assembly upon lowering of the pH, leading to the formation of high molecular weight oligomers. The oligomeric structures rapidly disassemble to the well-folded dimer upon reversal of the pH to close to neutral conditions. Circular dichroism (CD) and atomic force microscopy (AFM) experiments demonstrate that the oligomeric structure formed at pH 5.0 appears to be highly helical and has architecture akin to proto-fibrils. Residue-specific kinetics of pH-triggered oligomerization obtained from real-time 15N-1H HSQC experiments indicate that the dimer-oligomer transition appears to involve all residues of the well-folded dimeric structure of the Ste11 SAM. Very interestingly, the interactions of the Ste11 and Ste50 SAM domains also lead to the formation of non-homogeneous hetero-complexes with significant populations of high molecular weight aggregates. AFM imaging shows that the Ste11-Ste50 hetero-polymeric aggregates assume the shapes of circular nano-particles with dimensions of 50-60 nano-meters (nm), in contrast to the proto-fibrils formed by the Ste11 SAM domain alone. Such intrinsic propensity for dimer to oligomer transition of the Ste50-binding SAM domain of Ste11 may endow the MAPKKK Ste11 with unique functional properties required for efficient and high fidelity signal transduction in the budding yeast.
Project description:We describe here the cloning and characterization of a cDNA encoding a protein kinase that has high sequence homology to members of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) kinase kinase (MAPKKK or MEKK) family; this cDNA is named cATMEKKI (Arabidopsis thaliana MAP kinase or ERK kinase kinase 1). The catalytic domain of the putative ATMEKK1 protein shows approximately 40% identity with the amino acid sequences of the catalytic domains of MAPKKKs (such as Byr2 from Schizosaccharomyces pombe, Ste11 from Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Bck1 from S. cerevisiae, MEKK from mouse, and NPK1 from tobacco). In yeast cells that overexpress ATMEKK1, the protein kinase replaces Ste11 in responding to mating pheromone. In this study, the expression of three protein kinases was examined by Northern blot analyses: ATMEKK1 (structurally related to MAPKKK), ATMPK3 (structurally related to MAPK), and ATPK19 (structurally related to ribosomal S6 kinase). The mRNA levels of these three protein kinases increased markedly and simultaneously in response to touch, cold, and salinity stress. These results suggest that MAP kinase cascades, which are thought to respond to a variety of extracellular signals, are regulated not only at the posttranslational level but also at the transcriptional level in plants and that MAP kinase cascades in plants may function in transducing signals in the presence of environmental stress.
Project description:The Hog1 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) plays a central role in stress responses in the human pathogen Candida albicans. Here, we have investigated the MAPK kinase kinase (MAPKKK)-dependent regulation of the pathway. In contrast to the Hog1 pathway in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is regulated by three MAPKKKs (Ssk2, Ssk22, and Ste11), our results demonstrate that Hog1 in C. albicans is regulated by a single MAPKKK Ssk2. Deletion of SSK2 results in comparable stress and morphological phenotypes exhibited by hog1Delta cells, and Ssk2 is required for the stress-induced phosphorylation and nuclear accumulation of Hog1, and for Hog1-dependent gene expression. Furthermore, phenotypes associated with deletion of SSK2 can be circumvented by expression of a phosphomimetic mutant of the MAPKK Pbs2, indicating that Ssk2 regulates Hog1 via activation of Pbs2. In S. cerevisiae, the Hog1 pathway is also regulated by the MAPKKK Ste11. However, we can find no connection between Ste11 and the regulation of Hog1 in C. albicans. Furthermore, expression of a chimeric Pbs2 protein containing the Ste11-dependent regulatory region of S. cerevisiae Pbs2, fails to stimulate Ste11-dependent stress signaling in C. albicans. Collectively, our data show that Ssk2 is the sole MAPKKK to relay stress signals to Hog1 in C. albicans and that the MAPK signaling network in C. albicans has diverged significantly from the corresponding network in S. cerevisiae.
Project description:Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici (Pst) is an obligate biotrophic fungus that causes extensive damage in wheat. The pathogen is now known to be a heteroecious fungus with an intricate life cycle containing sexual and asexual stages. Orthologues of the STE12 transcription factor that regulate mating and filamentation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, as well as virulence in other fungi, have been extensively described. Because reliable transformation and gene disruption methods are lacking for Pst, knowledge about the function of its STE12 orthologue is limited. In this study, we identified a putative orthologue of STE12 from Pst in haustoria-enriched transcripts and designated it as PstSTE12. The gene encodes a protein of 879 amino acids containing three helices in the homeodomain, conserved phenylalanine and tryptophan sites, and two C2 /H2 -Zn2+ finger domains. Real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analyses revealed that the expression of PstSTE12 was highly induced during the early infection stages and peaked during haustorium formation and the pycniospore stage in the aecial host barberry. Subcellular localization assays indicated that PstSTE12 is localized in the nucleus and functions as a transcriptional activator. Yeast one-hybrid assays revealed that PstSTE12 exhibits transcriptional activity, and that its C-terminus is necessary for the activation of transcription. PstSTE12 complemented the mating defect in an ? ste12 mutant of S. cerevisiae. In addition, it partially complemented the defects of the Magnaporthe oryzae mst12 mutant in plant infection. Knocking down PstSTE12 via host-induced gene silencing (HIGS) mediated by Barley stripe mosaic virus (BSMV) resulted in a substantial reduction in the growth and spread of hyphae in Pst and weakened the virulence of Pst on wheat. Our results suggest that PstSTE12 probably acts at an intersection participating in the invasion and mating processes of Pst, and provide new insights into the comprehension of the variation of virulence in cereal rust fungi.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Stripe rust, caused by Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici (Pst), is one of the most destructive diseases of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) worldwide. In spite of its agricultural importance, the genomics and genetics of the pathogen are poorly characterized. Pst transcripts from urediniospores and germinated urediniospores have been examined previously, but little is known about genes expressed during host infection. Some genes involved in virulence in other rust fungi have been found to be specifically expressed in haustoria. Therefore, the objective of this study was to generate a cDNA library to characterize genes expressed in haustoria of Pst. RESULTS: A total of 5,126 EST sequences of high quality were generated from haustoria of Pst, from which 287 contigs and 847 singletons were derived. Approximately 10% and 26% of the 1,134 unique sequences were homologous to proteins with known functions and hypothetical proteins, respectively. The remaining 64% of the unique sequences had no significant similarities in GenBank. Fifteen genes were predicted to be proteins secreted from Pst haustoria. Analysis of ten genes, including six secreted protein genes, using quantitative RT-PCR revealed changes in transcript levels in different developmental and infection stages of the pathogen. CONCLUSIONS: The haustorial cDNA library was useful in identifying genes of the stripe rust fungus expressed during the infection process. From the library, we identified 15 genes encoding putative secreted proteins and six genes induced during the infection process. These genes are candidates for further studies to determine their functions in wheat-Pst interactions.
Project description:Candida albicans is among the most prevalent opportunistic human fungal pathogens. The ability to mask the immunogenic polysaccharide ? (1,3)-glucan from immune detection via a layer of mannosylated proteins is a key virulence factor of C. albicans We previously reported that hyperactivation of the Cek1 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase pathway promotes ? (1,3)-glucan exposure. In this communication, we report a novel upstream regulator of Cek1 activation and characterize the impact of Cek1 activity on fungal virulence. Lrg1 encodes a GTPase-activating protein (GAP) that has been suggested to inhibit the GTPase Rho1. We found that disruption of LRG1 causes Cek1 hyperactivation and ? (1,3)-glucan unmasking. However, when GTPase activation was measured for a panel of GTPases, the lrg1?? mutant exhibited increased activation of Cdc42 and Ras1 but not Rho1 or Rac1. Unmasking and Cek1 activation in the lrg1?? mutant can be blocked by inhibition of the Ste11 MAP kinase kinase kinase (MAPKKK), indicating that the lrg1?? mutant acts through the canonical Cek1 MAP kinase cascade. In order to determine how Cek1 hyperactivation specifically impacts virulence, a doxycycline-repressible hyperactive STE11?N467 allele was expressed in C. albicans In the absence of doxycycline, this allele overexpressed STE11?N467 , which induced production of proinflammatory tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-?) from murine macrophages. This in vitro phenotype correlates with decreased colonization and virulence in a mouse model of systemic infection. The mechanism by which Ste11?N467 causes unmasking was explored with RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) analysis. Overexpression of Ste11?N467 caused upregulation of the Cph1 transcription factor and of a group of cell wall-modifying proteins which are predicted to impact cell wall architecture.IMPORTANCE Candida albicans is an important source of systemic infections in humans. The ability to mask the immunogenic cell wall polymer ? (1,3)-glucan from host immune surveillance contributes to fungal virulence. We previously reported that the hyperactivation of the Cek1 MAP kinase cascade promotes cell wall unmasking, thus increasing strain immunogenicity. In this study, we identified a novel regulator of the Cek1 pathway called Lrg1. Lrg1 is a predicted GTPase-activating protein (GAP) that represses Cek1 activity by downregulating the GTPase Cdc42 and its downstream MAPKKK, Ste11. Upregulation of Cek1 activity diminished fungal virulence in the mouse model of infection, and this correlates with increased cytokine responses from macrophages. We also analyzed the transcriptional profile determined during ? (1,3)-glucan exposure driven by Cek1 hyperactivation. Our report provides a model where Cek1 hyperactivation causes ? (1,3)-glucan exposure by upregulation of cell wall proteins and leads to more robust immune detection in vivo, promoting more effective clearance.
Project description:Calcineurin plays a key role in morphogenesis, pathogenesis and drug resistance in most fungi. However, the function of calcineurin genes in Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici (Pst) is unclear. We identified and characterized the calcineurin genes PsCNA1 and PsCNB1 in Pst. Phylogenetic analyses indicate that PsCNA1 and PsCNB1 form a calcium/calmodulin regulated protein phosphatase belonging to the calcineurin heterodimers composed of subunits A and B. Quantitative RT-PCR analyses revealed that both PsCNA1 and PsCNB1 expression reached their maximum in the stage of haustorium formation, which is one day after inoculation. Using barely stripe mosaic virus (BSMV) as a transient expression vector in wheat, the expression of PsCNA1 and PsCNB1 in Pst was suppressed, leading to slower extension of fungal hyphae and reduced production of urediospores. The immune-suppressive drugs cyclosporin A and FK506 markedly reduced the germination rates of urediospores, and when germination did occur, more than two germtubes were produced. These results suggest that the calcineurin signaling pathway participates in stripe rust morphogenetic differentiation, especially the formation of haustoria during the early stage of infection and during the production of urediospores. Therefore PsCNA1 and PsCNB1 can be considered important pathogenicity genes involved in the wheat-Pst interaction.
Project description:The yeast high osmolarity glycerol (HOG) signaling pathway can be activated by either of the two upstream pathways, termed the SHO1 and SLN1 branches. When stimulated by high osmolarity, the SHO1 branch activates an MAP kinase module composed of the Ste11 MAPKKK, the Pbs2 MAPKK, and the Hog1 MAPK. To investigate how osmostress activates this MAPK module, we isolated both gain-of-function and loss-of-function alleles in four key genes involved in the SHO1 branch, namely SHO1, CDC42, STE50, and STE11. These mutants were characterized using an HOG-dependent reporter gene, 8xCRE-lacZ. We found that Cdc42, in addition to binding and activating the PAK-like kinases Ste20 and Cla4, binds to the Ste11-Ste50 complex to bring activated Ste20/Cla4 to their substrate Ste11. Activated Ste11 and its HOG pathway-specific substrate, Pbs2, are brought together by Sho1; the Ste11-Ste50 complex binds to the cytoplasmic domain of Sho1, to which Pbs2 also binds. Thus, Cdc42, Ste50, and Sho1 act as adaptor proteins that control the flow of the osmostress signal from Ste20/Cla4 to Ste11, then to Pbs2.
Project description:As an obligate parasite, Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici (Pst) forms haustoria to obtain nutrients from plant cells for development, and these structures are essential for pathogen survival. To better understand the contribution of haustoria to the interactions with the host plants, we isolated haustoria from susceptible wheat leaves infected with Pst race CYR31 and sequenced their transcriptome as well as those of urediospores and germ tubes, and compared the three transcriptomes. A total of 3524 up-regulated genes were obtained from haustoria, of which 73 genes were related to thiamine biosynthesis, glycolysis and lipid metabolic processes. Silencing seven of the genes reduced the growth and development of Pst in wheat. More interestingly, 1197 haustorial secreted proteins (HASPs) were detected in haustoria, accounting for 34% of the total proteins, indicating that these HASPs play important roles in haustorium-mediated pathogenic progression. Furthermore, 69 HASPs were able to suppress Bax-triggered programmed cell death in tobacco. Additionally, 46 HASPs significantly reduced callose deposition in wheat using the type III secretion system. This study identified a large number of effectors through transcriptome sequencing, and the results revealed components of metabolic pathways that impact the growth and colonization of the pathogen and indicate essential functions of haustoria in the growth and pathogenicity of Pst.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Non-host resistance (NHR) confers plant species immunity against the majority of microbial pathogens and represents the most robust and durable form of plant resistance in nature. As one of the main genera of rust fungi with economic and biological importance, Puccinia infects almost all cereals but is unable to cause diseases on legumes. Little is known about the mechanism of this kind of effective defense in legumes to these non-host pathogens. RESULTS: In this study, the basis of NHR in broad bean (Vicia faba L.) against the wheat stripe rust pathogen, Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici (Pst), was characterized. No visible symptoms were observed on broad bean leaves inoculated with Pst. Microscopic observations showed that successful location of stomata and haustoria formation were significantly reduced in Pst infection of broad bean. Attempted infection induced the formation of papillae, cell wall thickening, production of reactive oxygen species, callose deposition and accumulation of phenolic compounds in plant cell walls. The few Pst haustoria that did form in broad bean cells were encased in reactive oxygen and callose materials and those cells elicited cell death. Furthermore, a total of seven defense-related genes were identified and found to be up-regulated during the Pst infection. CONCLUSIONS: The results indicate that NHR in broad bean against Pst results from a continuum of layered defenses, including basic incompatibility, structural and chemical strengthening of cell wall, posthaustorial hypersensitive response and induction of several defense-related genes, demonstrating the multi-layered feature of NHR. This work also provides useful information for further determination of resistance mechanisms in broad bean to rust fungi, especially the adapted important broad bean rust pathogen, Uromyces viciae-fabae, because of strong similarity and association between NHR of plants to unadapted pathogens and basal resistance of plants to adapted pathogens.