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Plant Cell. 1997 Sep;9(9):1585-94.

The Ustilago maydis regulatory subunit of a cAMP-dependent protein kinase is required for gall formation in maize.

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Department of Plant Pathology, University of Georgia, Athens 30602-7274, USA.


In the plant, filamentous growth is required for pathogenicity of the corn smut pathogen Ustilago maydis. Earlier, we identified a role for the cAMP signal transduction pathway in the switch between budding and filamentous growth for this fungus. A gene designated ubc1 (for Ustilago bypass of cyclase) was found to be required for filamentous growth and to encode the regulatory subunit of a cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA). Here, we show that ubc1 is important for the virulence of the pathogen. Specifically, ubc1 mutants are able to colonize maize plants and, like the wild-type pathogen, cause localized symptoms in association with the presence of hyphae. However, in contrast to plants infected with wild-type cells that often developed galls from initially chlorotic tissue, plants infected with the ubc1 mutant did not produce galls. These data suggest that PKA regulation is critical for the transition from saprophytic to pathogenic growth and from vegetative to reproductive development. Plate mating assays in which exogenous cAMP was applied suggested that the cAMP and b mating-type morphogenetic pathways may be coordinated.

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