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Genes Dev. 1991 Dec;5(12B):2420-30.

Chitin synthase 1 plays a major role in cell wall biogenesis in Neurospora crassa.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, California 94305.


In filamentous fungi, chitin is a structural component of morphologically distinct structures assembled during various phases of growth and development. To investigate the role of chitin synthase in cell wall biogenesis in Neurospora crassa, we cloned a chitin synthase structural gene and examined the consequences of its inactivation. Using degenerate oligonucleotide mixtures designed on the basis of conserved sequences of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae CHS1 and CHS2 polypeptides, a DNA fragment encoding a similar predicted amino acid sequence was amplified from N. crassa genomic DNA. This product was used to probe N. crassa libraries for a gene homologous to one of the yeast genes. Full-length genomic and partial cDNA clones were identified, isolated, and sequenced. The amino acid sequence deduced from a cloned 3.4-kb gene [designated chitin synthase 1 (chs-1)] was very similar to that of the S. cerevisiae CHS1 and CHS2 and the Candida albicans CHS1 polypeptides. Inactivation of the N. crassa chs-1 gene by repeat-induced point mutation produced slow-growing progeny that formed hyphae with morphologic abnormalities. The chs-1RIP phenotype was correlated with a significant reduction in chitin synthase activity. Calcofluor staining of the chs-1RIP strain cross-walls, residual chitin synthase activity, and the increased sensitivity of the chs-1RIP strain to Nikkomycin Z suggest that N. crassa produces additional chitin synthase that can participate in cell wall formation.

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