Assignment of a dubious gene cluster to melanin biosynthesis in the tomato fungal pathogen Cladosporium fulvum

Scott A. Griffiths, Russell J. Cox, Elysa J.R. Overdijk, Carl H. Mesarich, Benedetta Saccomanno, Colin M. Lazarus, Pierre J.G.M. de Wit, Jérôme Collemare*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Pigments and phytotoxins are crucial for the survival and spread of plant pathogenic fungi. The genome of the tomato biotrophic fungal pathogen Cladosporium fulvum contains a predicted gene cluster (CfPKS1, CfPRF1, CfRDT1 and CfTSF1) that is syntenic with the characterized elsinochrome toxin gene cluster in the citrus pathogen Elsinoë fawcettii. However, a previous phylogenetic analysis suggested that CfPks1 might instead be involved in pigment production. Here, we report the characterization of the CfPKS1 gene cluster to resolve this ambiguity. Activation of the regulator CfTSF1 specifically induced the expression of CfPKS1 and CfRDT1, but not of CfPRF1. These co-regulated genes that define the CfPKS1 gene cluster are orthologous to genes involved in 1,3-dihydroxynaphthalene (DHN) melanin biosynthesis in other fungi. Heterologous expression of CfPKS1 in Aspergillus oryzae yielded 1,3,6,8-tetrahydroxynaphthalene, a typical precursor of DHN melanin. Δcfpks1 deletion mutants showed similar altered pigmentation to wild type treated with DHN melanin inhibitors. These mutants remained virulent on tomato, showing this gene cluster is not involved in pathogenicity. Altogether, our results showed that the CfPKS1 gene cluster is involved in the production of DHN melanin and suggests that elsinochrome production in E. fawcettii likely involves another gene cluster.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0209600
Number of pages18
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume13
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2018

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