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Mol Microbiol. 2002 May;44(3):621-31.

A basic helix-loop-helix protein with similarity to the fungal morphological regulators, Phd1p, Efg1p and StuA, controls conidiation but not dimorphic growth in Penicillium marneffei.

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Department of Genetics, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 3010.


Members of the APSES protein group are basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) proteins that regulate processes such as mating, asexual sporulation and dimorphic growth in fungi. Penicillium marneffei is a human pathogen and is the only member of its genus to display a dimorphic growth transition. At 25 degrees C, P. marneffei grows with a filamentous morphology and produces asexual spores from multicellular con-idiophores. At 37 degrees C, the filamentous morphology is replaced by yeast cells that reproduce by fission. We have cloned and characterized an APSES protein-encoding gene from P. marneffei that has a high degree of similarity to Aspergillus nidulans stuA. Deletion of stuA in P. marneffei showed that it is required for metula and phialide formation during conidiation but is not required for dimorphic growth. This suggests that APSES proteins may control processes that require budding (formation of the metulae and phialides, pseudohyphal growth in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and dimorphic growth in Candida albicans) but not those that require fission (dimorphic growth in P. marneffei). The A. nidulans DeltastuA mutant has defects in both conidiation and mating. The P. marneffei stuA gene was capable of complementing the conidiation defect but could only inefficiently complement the sexual defects of the A. nidulans mutant. This suggests that the P. marneffei gene, which comes from an asexual species, has diverged significantly from the A. nidulans gene with respect to sexual but not asexual development.

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