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Eukaryot Cell. 2009 Nov;8(11):1677-91. doi: 10.1128/EC.00050-09. Epub 2009 Sep 11.

Reconstruction of signaling networks regulating fungal morphogenesis by transcriptomics.

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Leiden University, Institute of Biology, Section Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology, Sylviusweg 72, 2333 BE Leiden, The Netherlands.


Coordinated control of hyphal elongation and branching is essential for sustaining mycelial growth of filamentous fungi. In order to study the molecular machinery ensuring polarity control in the industrial fungus Aspergillus niger, we took advantage of the temperature-sensitive (ts) apical-branching ramosa-1 mutant. We show here that this strain serves as an excellent model system to study critical steps of polar growth control during mycelial development and report for the first time a transcriptomic fingerprint of apical branching for a filamentous fungus. This fingerprint indicates that several signal transduction pathways, including TORC2, phospholipid, calcium, and cell wall integrity signaling, concertedly act to control apical branching. We furthermore identified the genetic locus affected in the ramosa-1 mutant by complementation of the ts phenotype. Sequence analyses demonstrated that a single amino acid exchange in the RmsA protein is responsible for induced apical branching of the ramosa-1 mutant. Deletion experiments showed that the corresponding rmsA gene is essential for the growth of A. niger, and complementation analyses with Saccharomyces cerevisiae evidenced that RmsA serves as a functional equivalent of the TORC2 component Avo1p. TORC2 signaling is required for actin polarization and cell wall integrity in S. cerevisiae. Congruently, our microscopic investigations showed that polarized actin organization and chitin deposition are disturbed in the ramosa-1 mutant. The integration of the transcriptomic, genetic, and phenotypic data obtained in this study allowed us to reconstruct a model for cellular events involved in apical branching.

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