Filamentous ascomycetes, including mitotic holomorphs, have constitutively transcribed MAT (mating type) genes. These genes encode transcription factors considered to be the major regulators of sexual communication. The proven targets of the MAT transcription factors are pheromone precursor and pheromone receptor genes. However, recent studies demonstrated that MAT proteins may also affect other genes not involved directly in the mating process. When grown in the light, Fusarium verticillioides produces the acidic xanthophyll neurosporoxanthin and lower amounts of nonpolar precursor carotenes, such as phytoene, torulene, β-carotene, and γ-carotene. Depending on the illumination conditions, a drastic decrease or the absence of light-inducible carotenoid accumulation was detected in three independent ΔFvMAT1-2-1 knockout mutants of F. verticillioides as compared with the parental wild-type strain. Transcript levels of the carB, carRA, and carT genes, encoding key enzymes of the carotenoid biosynthetic pathway, were also significantly reduced in the mutants. The downregulation of these genes in the ΔFvMAT1-2-1 mutant indicates that MAT genes play a role in the control of carotenogenesis in Fusarium. The finding that mating-type genes regulate important processes unrelated to sex helps to understand the presence of functional MAT genes in asexually reproducing fungus populations.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology