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Genetics. 1999 Feb;151(2):545-55.

Molecular characterization of tol, a mediator of mating-type-associated vegetative incompatibility in Neurospora crassa.

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The Biotechnology Laboratory and The Botany Department, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z3, Canada.


The mating-type locus in the haploid filamentous fungus, Neurospora crassa, controls mating and sexual development. The fusion of reproductive structures of opposite mating type, A and a, is required to initiate sexual reproduction. However, the fusion of hyphae of opposite mating type during vegetative growth results in growth inhibition and cell death, a process that is mediated by the tol locus. Mutations in tol are recessive and suppress mating-type-associated heterokaryon incompatibility. In this study, we describe the cloning and characterization of tol. The tol gene encodes a putative 1011-amino-acid polypeptide with a coiled-coil domain and a leucine-rich repeat. Both regions are required for tol activity. Repeat-induced point mutations in tol result in mutants that are wild type during vegetative growth and sexual reproduction, but that allow opposite mating-type individuals to form a vigorous heterokaryon. Transcript analyses show that tol mRNA is present during vegetative growth but absent during a cross. These data suggest that tol transcription is repressed to allow the coexistence of opposite mating-type nuclei during the sexual reproductive phase. tol is expressed in a mat A, mat a, A/a partial diploid and in a mating-type deletion strain, indicating that MAT A-1 and MAT a-1 are not absolutely required for transcription or repression of tol. These data suggest that TOL may rather interact with MAT A-1 and/or MAT a-1 (or downstream products) to form a death-triggering complex.

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