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PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e51454. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051454. Epub 2012 Dec 13.

The essential phosphoinositide kinase MSS-4 is required for polar hyphal morphogenesis, localizing to sites of growth and cell fusion in Neurospora crassa.

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  • 1Department of Plant Biochemistry, Albrecht-von-Haller-Institute for Plant Sciences, Georg-August-University Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany.


Fungal hyphae and plant pollen tubes are among the most highly polarized cells known and pose extraordinary requirements on their cell polarity machinery. Cellular morphogenesis is driven through the phospholipid-dependent organization at the apical plasma membrane. We characterized the contribution of phosphoinositides (PIs) in hyphal growth of the filamentous ascomycete Neurospora crassa. MSS-4 is an essential gene and its deletion resulted in spherically growing cells that ultimately lyse. Two conditional mss-4-mutants exhibited altered hyphal morphology and aberrant branching at restrictive conditions that were complemented by expression of wild type MSS-4. Recombinant MSS-4 was characterized as a phosphatidylinositolmonophosphate-kinase phosphorylating phosphatidylinositol 4-phosphate (PtdIns4P) to phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PtdIns(4,5)P(2)). PtdIns3P was also used as a substrate. Sequencing of two conditional mss-4 alleles identified a single substitution of a highly conserved Y750 to N. The biochemical characterization of recombinant protein variants revealed Y750 as critical for PI4P 5-kinase activity of MSS-4 and of plant PI4P 5-kinases. The conditional growth defects of mss-4 mutants were caused by severely reduced activity of MSS-4(Y750N), enabling the formation of only trace amounts of PtdIns(4,5)P(2). In N. crassa hyphae, PtdIns(4,5)P(2) localized predominantly in the plasma membrane of hyphae and along septa. Fluorescence-tagged MSS-4 formed a subapical collar at hyphal tips, localized to constricting septa and accumulated at contact points of fusing N. crassa germlings, indicating MSS-4 is responsible for the formation of relevant pools of PtdIns(4,5)P(2) that control polar and directional growth and septation. N. crassa MSS-4 differs from yeast, plant and mammalian PI4P 5-kinases by containing additional protein domains. The N-terminal domain of N. crassa MSS-4 was required for correct membrane association. The data presented for N. crassa MSS-4 and its roles in hyphal growth are discussed with a comparative perspective on PI-control of polar tip growth in different organismic kingdoms.

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