A novel F-box protein involved in sexual development and pathogenesis in Gibberella zeae

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Gibberella zeae is an ascomyceteous fungus that causes serious diseases in cereal crops. Severe epidemics require strains that are virulent and that can reproduce sexually. We characterized an insertional mutant (designated ZH436) with a pleiotropic defect in both traits, and identified a novel F-box protein gene encoding FBP1 (F-b ox p rotein 1) that is similar to fungal F-box proteins including Saccharomyces cerevisiae Grr1, a well-characterized component of the Skp1-Cullin-F-box protein (SCFGrr1) E3 ligase complex required for protein degradation. FBP1 also can bind both S. cerevisiae Skp1 protein, the other component of the SCFGrr1 complex, and its G. zeae sequence homologue SKP1. Two putative protein interacting domains in FBP1 are essential for in vivo function. FBP1 and ScGRR1 are not so interchangeable between S. cerevisiae and G. zeae, but FBP1 can partially complement several defects of a yeast grr1 deletion mutant. Functional analyses confirmed that FBP1 is required for several phenotypes including both sexual development and virulence in G. zeae; the phenotype of ΔFBP1 strains is different from those of null mutants for F-box proteins in other filamentous fungi as well as from S. cerevisiae grr1Δ strains. Thus, FBP1 is a versatile F-box protein that presumably participates in the formation of the SCFFBP1 complex that probably controls the ubiquitin-mediated degradation of proteins involved in sexual reproduction and virulence important for disease development by G. zeae.

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