A nitrogen response pathway regulates virulence functions in Fusarium oxysporum via the protein kinase TOR and the bZIP protein MeaB.
ABSTRACT During infection, fungal pathogens activate virulence mechanisms, such as host adhesion, penetration and invasive growth. In the vascular wilt fungus Fusarium oxysporum, the mitogen-activated protein kinase Fmk1 is required for plant infection and controls processes such as cellophane penetration, vegetative hyphal fusion, or root adhesion. Here, we show that these virulence-related functions are repressed by the preferred nitrogen source ammonium and restored by treatment with l-methionine sulfoximine or rapamycin, two specific inhibitors of Gln synthetase and the protein kinase TOR, respectively. Deletion of the bZIP protein MeaB also resulted in nitrogen source-independent activation of virulence mechanisms. Activation of these functions did not require the global nitrogen regulator AreA, suggesting that MeaB-mediated repression of virulence functions does not act through inhibition of AreA. Tomato plants (Solanum lycopersicum) supplied with ammonium rather than nitrate showed a significant reduction in vascular wilt symptoms when infected with the wild type but not with the DeltameaB strain. Nitrogen source also affected invasive growth in the rice blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae and the wheat head blight pathogen Fusarium graminearum. We propose that a conserved nitrogen-responsive pathway might operate via TOR and MeaB to control virulence in plant pathogenic fungi.
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ABSTRACT: In F. graminearum, the transcriptional regulator Tri6 is encoded within the trichothecene gene cluster and regulates genes involved in the biosynthesis of the secondary metabolite deoxynivalenol (DON). The Tri6 protein with its Cys₂His₂ zinc-finger may also conform to the class of global transcription regulators. This class of global transcriptional regulators mediate various environmental cues and generally responds to the demands of cellular metabolism. To address this issue directly, we sought to find gene targets of Tri6 in F. graminearum grown in optimal nutrient conditions. Chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by Illumina sequencing (ChIP-Seq) revealed that in addition to identifying six genes within the trichothecene gene cluster, Tri1, Tri3, Tri6, Tri7, Tri12 and Tri14, the ChIP-Seq also identified 192 additional targets potentially regulated by Tri6. Functional classification revealed that, among the annotated genes, ∼40% are associated with cellular metabolism and transport and the rest of the target genes fall into the category of signal transduction and gene expression regulation. ChIP-Seq data also revealed Tri6 has the highest affinity toward its own promoter, suggesting that this gene could be subject to self-regulation. Electro mobility shift assays (EMSA) performed on the promoter of Tri6 with purified Tri6 protein identified a minimum binding motif of GTGA repeats as a consensus sequence. Finally, expression profiling of F. graminearum grown under nitrogen-limiting conditions revealed that 49 out of 198 target genes are differentially regulated by Tri6. The identification of potential new targets together with deciphering novel binding sites for Tri6, casts new light into the role of this transcriptional regulator in the overall growth and development of F. graminearum.PLoS Pathogens 09/2011; 7(9):e1002266. · 9.13 Impact Factor