The formation of appressoria, specialized plant penetration structures of Magnaporthe oryzae, is regulated by the MST11-MST7-PMK1 MAP kinase cascade. One of its downstream transcription factor, MST12, is important for penetration and invasive growth but dispensable for appressorium formation. To identify additional downstream targets that are regulated by Pmk1, in this study we performed phosphorylation assays with a protein microarray composed of 573M. oryzae transcription factor (TF) genes. Three of the TF genes phosphorylated by Pmk1 in vitro were further analyzed by coimmunoprecipitation assays. One of them, MoSFL1, was found to interact with Pmk1 in vivo. Like other Sfl1 orthologs, the MoSfl1 protein has the HSF-like domain. When expressed in yeast, MoSFL1 functionally complemented the flocculation defects of the sfl1 mutant. In M. oryzae, deletion of MoSFl1 resulted in a significant reduction in virulence on rice and barley seedlings. Consistent with this observation, the Mosfl1 mutant was defective in invasive growth in penetration assays with rice leaf sheaths. In comparison with that of vegetative hyphae, the expression level of MoSFL1 was increased in appressoria and infected rice leaves. The Mosfl1 mutant also had increased sensitivity to elevated temperatures. In CM cultures of the Mosfl1 and pmk1 mutants grown at 30°C, the production of aerial hyphae and melanization were reduced but their growth rate was not altered. When assayed by qRT-PCR, the transcription levels of the MoHSP30 and MoHSP98 genes were reduced 10- and 3-fold, respectively, in the Mosfl1 mutant. SFL1 orthologs are conserved in filamentous ascomycetes but none of them have been functionally characterized in non-Saccharomycetales fungi. MoSfl1 has one putative MAPK docking site and three putative MAPK phosphorylation sites. Therefore, it may be functionally related to Pmk1 in the regulation of invasive growth and stress responses in M. oryzae.


This is the publisher pdf of Li G, Zhou X, Kong L, Wang Y, Zhang H, et al. (2011) MoSfl1 Is Important for Virulence and Heat Tolerance in Magnaporthe oryzae. PLoS ONE 6(5): e19951 and is available at: 10.1371/journal.pone.0019951.

Date of this Version