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Plant Cell. 2006 Jan;18(1):225-42. Epub 2005 Nov 28.

Polar localizing class V myosin chitin synthases are essential during early plant infection in the plant pathogenic fungus Ustilago maydis.

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Max-Planck-Institut für Terrestrische Mikrobiologie, Marburg, Germany.


Fungal chitin synthases (CHSs) form fibers of the cell wall and are crucial for substrate invasion and pathogenicity. Filamentous fungi contain up to 10 CHSs, which might reflect redundant functions or the complex biology of these fungi. Here, we investigate the complete repertoire of eight CHSs in the dimorphic plant pathogen Ustilago maydis. We demonstrate that all CHSs are expressed in yeast cells and hyphae. Green fluorescent protein (GFP) fusions to all CHSs localize to septa, whereas Chs5-GFP, Chs6-GFP, Chs7-yellow fluorescent protein (YFP), and Myosin chitin synthase1 (Mcs1)-YFP were found at growth regions of yeast-like cells and hyphae, indicating that they participate in tip growth. However, only the class IV CHS genes chs7 and chs5 are crucial for shaping yeast cells and hyphae ex planta. Although most CHS mutants were attenuated in plant pathogenicity, Deltachs6, Deltachs7, and Deltamcs1 mutants were drastically reduced in virulence. Deltamcs1 showed no morphological defects in hyphae, but Mcs1 became essential during invasion of the plant epidermis. Deltamcs1 hyphae entered the plant but immediately lost growth polarity and formed large aggregates of spherical cells. Our data show that the polar class IV CHSs are essential for morphogenesis ex planta, whereas the class V myosin-CHS is essential during plant infection.

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