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Genes Dev. 1996 Nov 1;10(21):2696-706.

MAP kinase and cAMP signaling regulate infection structure formation and pathogenic growth in the rice blast fungus Magnaporthe grisea.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907, USA.


Many fungal pathogens invade plants using specialized infection structures called appressoria that differentiate from the tips of fungal hyphae contacting the plant surface. We demonstrate a role for a MAP kinase that is essential for appressorium formation and infectious growth in Magnaporthe grisea, the fungal pathogen responsible for rice blast disease. The PMK1 gene of M. grisea is homologous to the Saccharomyces cerevisiae MAP kinases FUS3/KSS1, and a GST-Pmk1 fusion protein has kinase activity in vitro. pmk1 mutants of M. grisea fail to form appressoria and fail to grow invasively in rice plants. pmk1 mutants are still responsive to cAMP for early stages of appressorium formation, which suggests Pmk1 acts downstream of a cAMP signal for infection structure formation. PMK1 is nonessential for vegetative growth and sexual and asexual reproduction in culture. Surprisingly, when expressed behind the GAL1 promoter in yeast, PMK1 can rescue the mating defect in a fus3 kss1 double mutant. These results demonstrate that PMK1 is part of a highly conserved MAP kinase signal transduction pathway that acts cooperatively with a cAMP signaling pathway for fungal pathogenesis.

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