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Genetics. 1998 Mar;148(3):1081-90.

A large pheromone and receptor gene complex determines multiple B mating type specificities in Coprinus cinereus.

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Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, United Kingdom.


Pheromone signaling plays an essential role in the mating and sexual development of mushroom fungi. Multiallelic genes encoding the peptide pheromones and their cognate 7-transmembrane helix (7-TM) receptors are sequestered in the B mating type locus. Here we describe the isolation of the B6 mating type locus of Coprinus cinereus. DNA sequencing and transformation analysis identified nine genes encoding three 7-TM receptors and six peptide pheromone precursors embedded within 17 kb of mating type-specific sequence. The arrangement of the nine genes suggests that there may be three functionally independent subfamilies of genes each comprising two pheromone genes and one receptor gene. None of the nine B6 genes showed detectable homology to corresponding B gene sequences in the genomic DNA from a B3 strain, and each of the B6 genes independently alter B mating specificity when introduced into a B3 host strain. However, only genes in two of the B6 groups were able to activate B-regulated development in a B42 host. Southern blot analysis showed that these genes failed to cross-hybridize to corresponding genes in the B42 host, whereas the three genes of the third subfamily, which could not activate development in the B42 host, did cross-hybridize. We conclude that cross-hybridization identifies the same alleles of a particular subfamily of genes in different B loci and that B6 and B42 share alleles of one subfamily. There are an estimated 79 B mating specificities: we suggest that it is the different allele combinations of gene subfamilies that generate these large numbers.

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