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Genes Dev. 1994 Jun 15;8(12):1367-78.

Identification of fuz7, a Ustilago maydis MEK/MAPKK homolog required for a-locus-dependent and -independent steps in the fungal life cycle.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, School of Medicine, University of California San Francisco 94143-0448.


Ustilago maydis is a plant pathogenic Basidiomycete fungus that exhibits dimorphism--it has a haploid, yeast-like phase and a dikaryotic, filamentous phase that is pathogenic. Establishment and maintenance of these two forms are controlled by two mating type loci, a and b. The a locus is thought to govern fusion of haploid cells to form a dikaryon and is also required for filamentous growth of the dikaryon. It encodes two components of a pheromone response pathway: pheromones and receptors. We report the identification of the U. maydis fuz7 gene, which codes for a putative dual specificity serine/threonine tyrosine kinase of the MAP kinase kinase (MAPKK/MEK) family, by homology with other members of the family. Analysis of mutants deleted for fuz7 shows that it participates in different facets of the life cycle: It is necessary for a-locus-dependent processes, such as conjugation tube formation, filament formation, and maintenance of filamentous growth, and for a-locus-independent processes, such as tumor induction and teliospore germination. fuz7 is the first U. maydis gene distinct from the b locus required for fungal pathogenicity. We propose that fuz7 is involved in at least two pathways, one of which responds to the pheromones coded by the a locus and the other to putative signals from the plant.

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