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pH Signaling in Sclerotinia sclerotiorum: Identification of a pacC/RIM1 Homolog

By Jeffrey A. Rollins and Martin B. Dickman


Sclerotinia sclerotiorum acidifies its ambient environment by producing oxalic acid. This production of oxalic acid during plant infection has been implicated as a primary determinant of pathogenicity in this and other phytopathogenic fungi. We found that ambient pH conditions affect multiple processes in S. sclerotiorum. Exposure to increasing alkaline ambient pH increased the oxalic acid accumulation independent of carbon source, sclerotial development was favored by acidic ambient pH conditions but inhibited by neutral ambient pH, and transcripts encoding the endopolygalacturonase gene pg1 accumulated maximally under acidic culture conditions. We cloned a putative transcription factor-encoding gene, pac1, that may participate in a molecular signaling pathway for regulating gene expression in response to ambient pH. The three zinc finger domains of the predicted Pac1 protein are similar in sequence and organization to the zinc finger domains of the A. nidulans pH-responsive transcription factor PacC. The promoter of pac1 contains eight PacC consensus binding sites, suggesting that this gene, like its homologs, is autoregulated. Consistent with this suggestion, the accumulation of pac1 transcripts paralleled increases in ambient pH. Pac1 was determined to be a functional homolog of PacC by complementation of an A. nidulans pacC-null strain with pac1. Our results suggest that ambient pH is a regulatory cue for processes linked to pathogenicity, development, and virulence and that these processes may be under the molecular regulation of a conserved pH-dependent signaling pathway analogous to that in the nonpathogenic fungus A. nidulans

Topics: Mycology
Publisher: American Society for Microbiology
Year: 2001
DOI identifier: 10.1128/AEM.67.1.75-81.2001
OAI identifier: oai:pubmedcentral.nih.gov:92519
Provided by: PubMed Central
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