The basic leucine zipper (bZIP) domain-containing transcription factors (TFs) function as key regulators of cellular growth and differentiation in eukaryotic organisms including fungi. We have previously identified MoAp1 and MoAtf1 as bZIP TFs in Magnaporthe oryzae and demonstrated that they regulate the oxidative stress response and are critical in conidiogenesis and pathogenicity. Studies of bZIP proteins could provide a novel strategy for controlling rice blast, but a systematic examination of the bZIP proteins has not been carried out. Here, we identified 19 additional bZIP TFs and characterized their functions. We found that the majority of these TFs exhibit active functions, most notably, in conidiogenesis. We showed that MoHac1 regulates the endoplasmic reticulum stress response through a conserved unfolded protein response pathway, MoMetR controls amino acid metabolism to govern growth and differentiation, and MoBzip10 governs appressorium function and invasive hyphal growth. Moreover, MoBzip5 participates in appressorium formation through a pathway distinct from that MoBzip10, and MoMeaB appears to exert a regulatory role through nutrient uptake and nitrogen utilization. Collectively, our results provide insights into shared and specific functions associated with each of these TFs and link the regulatory roles to the fungal growth, conidiation, appressorium formation, host penetration and pathogenicity.
Amino acid biosyntheses are complex but essential processes in growth and differentiation of eukaryotic cells. In the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the lysine biosynthesis via the ?-aminoadipate (AA) pathway involves several steps, including reduction of AA to AA 6-semialdehyde by AA reductase ScLys2. In filamentous fungus Penicillium chrysogenum, disruption of the LYS2 gene blocked the lysine biosynthesis but promoted the production of the secondary metabolite penicillin. In comparison, little is known about the function of AA reductase Lys2 in phytopathogenic fungi. We here characterized the functions of MoLys2, a homolog of ScLys2, from the rice blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae. Our results showed that the ?Molys2 mutants were auxotrophic for lysine. The ?Molys2 mutants also exhibited drastic reduction in pathogenicity on rice, inducing small disease lesions. Microscopic examination of the lesions revealed that the invasive hyphae of ?Molys2 mutants were mostly restricted to the primary infected leaf sheath cells. In addition, exogenous lysine restored the production of conidia and near wild-type appressoria differentiation, and rescued the defect of pathogenicity in conidia infection of detached barely and rice leaf sheath. Our results indicated that MoLys2 is necessary for lysine biosynthesis that affects growth, conidiogenesis, and pathogenicity of the fungus. This study does implicate the potential for targeting lysine biosynthesis for the development of novel fungicides against M. oryzae.
Gti1/Pac2 are conserved family proteins that regulate morphogenic transition in yeasts such as Schizosaccharomyces pombe and Candida albicans, and they also control toxin production and pathogenicity in filamentous fungus Fusarium graminearum. To test the functions of Gti1/Pac2 paralogues MoGti1 and MoPac2 in the rice blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae, we generated respective ?Mogti1 and ?Mopac2 mutant strains. We found that MoGti1 and MoPac2 exhibit shared and distinct roles in hyphal growth, conidiation, sexual reproduction, stress responses, surface hydrophobility, invasive hyphal growth and pathogenicity. Consistent with the putative conserved function of MoGti1, we showed that MoGti1-GFP is localized to the nucleus, whereas MoPac2-GFP is mainly found in the cytoplasm. In addition, we provided evidence that the nuclear localization of MoGti1 could be subject to regulation by MoPmk1 mitogen-activated protein kinase. Moreover, we found that the reduced pathogenicity in the ?Mopac2 mutant corresponds with an increased expression of plant defence genes, including PR1a, AOS2, LOX1, PAD4, and CHT1. Taken together, our studies provide a comprehensive analysis of two similar but distinct Gti1/Pac2 family proteins in M.?oryzae, which underlines the important yet conserved functions of these family proteins in plant pathogenic fungi.
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