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      The functionally conserved effector Sta1 is a fungal cell wall protein required for virulence in Ustilago maydis.

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          Abstract

          The biotrophic fungus Ustilago maydis causes the smut disease of maize. The interaction with its host and induction of characteristic tumors are governed largely by secreted effectors whose function is mostly unknown. To identify effectors with a prominent role in virulence, we used RNA sequencing and found that the gene sta1 is upregulated during early stages of infection. We characterized Sta1 by comparative genomics, reverse genetics, protein localization, stress assays, and microscopy. sta1 mutants show a dramatic reduction of virulence and show altered colonization of tissue neighboring the vascular bundles. Functional orthologues of Sta1 are found in related smut pathogens infecting monocot and dicot plants. Sta1 is secreted by budding cells but is attached to the cell wall of filamentous hyphae. Upon constitutive expression of Sta1, fungal filaments become susceptible to Congo red, β-glucanase, and chitinase, suggesting that Sta1 alters the structure of the fungal cell wall. Constitutive or delayed expression of sta1 during plant colonization negatively impacts on virulence. Our results suggest that Sta1 is a novel kind of effector, which needs to modify the hyphal cell wall to allow hyphae to be accommodated in tissue next to the vascular bundles.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          New Phytol
          The New phytologist
          Wiley
          1469-8137
          0028-646X
          July 2020
          : 227
          : 1
          Affiliations
          [1 ] Department of Organismic Interactions, Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology, Karl-von-Frisch-Straße 10, D-35043, Marburg, Germany.
          Article
          10.1111/nph.16508
          32112567
          cb79ace7-f864-44e1-b95c-8a784eec34d4
          © 2020 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2020 New Phytologist Trust.

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