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Phytopathology. 2009 Feb;99(2):176-84. doi: 10.1094/PHYTO-99-2-0176.

Real-time quantitative expression studies of the zearalenone biosynthetic gene cluster in Fusarium graminearum.

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Plant Health and Plant Protection Division, Bioforsk-Norwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research, Høgskoleveien 7, N-1432 As, Norway.


The estrogenic mycotoxin zearalenone (ZON) produced by some Fusarium spp. causes reproductive problems and hyperestrogenic syndromes in mammals. In an effort to elucidate the molecular pathways of ZON production, we present a comparative real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction expression study of seven contiguous genes in the ZON biosynthetic cluster on sterile rice and during wheat and oat infection. Under ZON production on rice, the polyketide synthase (PKS) genes PKS4 and PKS13, alcohol oxidase FG12056 gene, and transcriptional regulator FG02398 gene showed similarly upregulated patterns, whereas the nonribosomal peptide synthetase (NPS) FG02394, the K(+) channel beta subunit FG12015, and the protein kinase FG02399 displayed a variant pattern. During the same time period under wheat infection when no ZON was produced, the PKS genes and the NPS were downregulated relative to rice whereas the K(+) channel beta subunit gene FG12015 was markedly upregulated, suggesting that it may play a role in the infection process. This is the first expression study of ZON biosynthetic genes in planta. The results give insight into the regulation and activities of the ZON gene cluster under different experimental systems and suggest a connection between ZON and a K(+) channel that could reveal a novel function for ZON in Fusarium spp.

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