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Plant Cell. 1995 Nov;7(11):1869-78.

The cAMP-dependent protein kinase catalytic subunit is required for appressorium formation and pathogenesis by the rice blast pathogen Magnaporthe grisea.

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Department of Plant Pathology and Physiology, Clemson University, South Carolina 29634, USA.


Magnaporthe grisea, the causal agent of rice blast disease, differentiates a specialized infection cell, an appressorium, that is required for infection of its host. Previously, cAMP was implicated in the endogenous signaling pathway leading to appressorium formation. To obtain direct evidence for the role of cAMP in appressorium formation, the gene encoding the catalytic subunit of the cAMP-dependent protein kinase (cpkA) was cloned, sequenced, and disrupted. Polymerase chain reaction primers designed after highly conserved regions in the same gene from other organisms were used to amplify genomic DNA fragments. The cloned amplification products were used to identify genomic clones. DNA blot analysis indicated that cpkA is present as a single copy in the genome. cpkA consists of 1894 bp, including three short introns sufficient to encode a protein of 539 amino acids with a predicted molecular mass of 60.7 kD. The deduced peptide shares > 45% identity with other catalytic subunits and contains all functional motifs and residues with the addition of a glutamine-rich region at the N terminus. Two transformants, L5 and T-182, in which cpkA had been replaced with a hygromycin resistance gene cassette, were unable to produce appressoria, could not be induced to form appressoria by cAMP, and were nonpathogenic on susceptible rice, even when leaves were abraded. These results were confirmed by analysis of 57 progeny from a cross between transformant L5 and the wild-type laboratory strain 70-6. Other aspects of growth and development, including vegetative growth as well as asexual and sexual competence, were unaffected when measured in vitro. These results provide direct evidence that the cAMP-dependent protein kinase is necessary for infection-related morphogenesis and pathogenesis in a phytopathogenic fungus.

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