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Stud Mycol. 2008;61:121-9. doi: 10.3114/sim.2008.61.12.

Evolution of CDC42, a putative virulence factor triggering meristematic growth in black yeasts.

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Department of Dermatology, First Affiliated Hospital, Xinjiang Medical University, Urumqi, Xinjiang, China.


The cell division cycle gene (CDC42) controlling cellular polarization was studied in members of Chaetothyriales. Based on ribosomal genes, ancestral members of the order exhibit meristematic growth in view of their colonization of inert surfaces such as rock, whereas in derived members of the order the gene is a putative virulence factor involved in expression of the muriform cell, the invasive phase in human chromoblastomycosis. Specific primers were developed to amplify a portion of the gene of 32 members of the order with known position according to ribosomal phylogeny. Phylogeny of CDC42 proved to be very different. In all members of Chaetohyriales the protein sequence is highly conserved. In most species, distributed all over the phylogenetic tree, introns and 3(rd) codon positions are also invariant. However, a number of species had paralogues with considerable deviation in non-coding exon positions, and synchronous variation in introns, although non-synonomous variation had remained very limited. In some strains both orthologues and paralogues were present. It is concluded that CDC42 does not show any orthologous evolution, and that its paralogues haves the same function but are structurally relaxed. The variation or absence thereof could not be linked to ecological changes, from rock-inhabiting to pathogenic life style. It is concluded that eventual pathogenicity in Chaetothyriales is not expressed at the DNA level in CDC42 evolution.


Cell Division Cycle CDC42; Chaetothyriales; chromoblastomycosis; muriform cell; paralogue evolution; phylogeny; virulence factors

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