The N-terminus region of the putative C2H2 transcription factor Ada1 harbors a species-specific activation motif that regulates asexual reproduction in Fusarium verticillioides
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Fusarium verticillioides is an important plant pathogenic fungus causing maize ear and stalk rots. In addition, the fungus is directly associated with fumonisin contamination of food and feeds. Here, we report the functional characterization of Ada1, a putative Cys2-His2 zinc finger transcription factor with a high level of similarity to Aspergillus nidulans FlbC, which is required for the activation of the key regulator of conidiation brlA. ADA1 is predicted to encode a protein with two DNA binding motifs at the C terminus and a putative activator domain at the N terminus region. Deletion of the flbC gene in A. nidulans results in "fluffy" cotton-like colonies, with a defect in transition from vegetative growth to asexual development. In this study we show that Ada1 plays a key role in asexual development in F. verticillioides. Conidia production was significantly reduced in the knockout mutant (Δada1), in which aberrant conidia and conidiophores were also observed. We identified genes that are predicted to be downstream of ADA1, based on A. nidulans conidiation signaling pathway. Among them, the deletion of stuA homologue, FvSTUA, resulted in near absence of conidia production. To further investigate the functional conservation of this transcription factor, we complemented the Δada1 strain with A. nidulans flbC, F. verticillioides ADA1, and chimeric constructs. A. nidulans flbC failed to restore conidia production similar to the wild-type level. However, the Ada1N-terminal domain, which contains a putative activator, fused to A. nidulans FlbC C-terminal motif successfully complemented the Δada1 mutant. Taken together, Ada1 is an important transcriptional regulator of asexual development in F. verticillioides and that the N-terminus domain is critical for proper function of this transcription factor.
author list (cited authors)
Malapi-Wight, M., Kim, J., & Shim, W.