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Genetics. 2013 Nov;195(3):883-98. doi: 10.1534/genetics.113.156984. Epub 2013 Sep 13.

Early colony establishment in Neurospora crassa requires a MAP kinase regulatory network.

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Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720-3102.


Vegetative fusion is essential for the development of an interconnected colony in many filamentous fungi. In the ascomycete fungus Neurospora crassa, vegetative fusion occurs between germinated conidia (germlings) via specialized structures termed "conidial anastomosis tubes" (CATs) and between hyphae within a mature colony. In N. crassa, both CAT and hyphal fusion are under the regulation of a conserved MAP kinase cascade (NRC1, MEK2, and MAK2). Here we show that the predicted downstream target of the MAK2 kinase pathway, a Ste12-like transcription factor known as PP1, regulates elements required for CAT and hyphal fusion. The PP1 regulatory network was revealed by expression profiling of wild type and the Δpp-1 mutant during conidial germination and colony establishment. To identify targets required for cell fusion more specifically, expression-profiling differences were assessed via inhibition of MAK2 kinase activity during chemotropic interactions and cell fusion. These approaches led to the identification of new targets of the cell fusion pathway that, when mutated, showed alterations in chemotropic signaling and cell fusion. In particular, conidial germlings carrying a deletion of NCU04732 (Δham-11) failed to show chemotropic interactions and cell fusion. However, signaling (as shown by oscillation of MAK2 and SO to CAT tips), chemotropism, and cell fusion were restored in Δham-11 germlings when matched with wild-type partner germlings. These data reveal novel insights into the complex process of self-signaling, germling fusion, and colony establishment in filamentous fungi.


Neurospora crassa; STE12; cell fusion; chemotropism; signal transduction; transcriptional profiling

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