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EMBO J. Apr 15, 1997; 16(8): 1934–1942.
PMCID: PMC1169796

G proteins in Ustilago maydis: transmission of multiple signals?

Abstract

In the phytopathogenic fungus Ustilago maydis, cell fusion is governed by a pheromone signalling system. The pheromone receptors belong to the seven transmembrane class that are coupled to heterotrimeric G proteins. We have isolated four genes (gpa1 to gpa4) encoding alpha subunits of G proteins. Gpa1, Gpa2 and Gpa3 have homologues in other fungal species, while Gpa4 is novel. Null mutants in individual genes were viable and only disruption of gpa3 caused a discernible phenotype. gpa3 mutant strains were unable to respond to pheromone and thus were mating-deficient. A constitutively active allele of gpa3 (gpa3(Q206L)) was generated by site-directed mutagenesis. Haploid strains harbouring gpa3(Q206L) were able to mate without pheromone stimulation, indicating that Gpa3 plays an active role in transmission of the pheromone signal. Surprisingly, Gpa3 is also required for pathogenic development, although pheromone signalling is not essential for this process.

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Selected References

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