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Genome-wide identification, classification and expression analysis in fungal–plant interactions of cutinase gene family and functional analysis of a putative ClCUT7 in Curvularia lunata

Liu, Tong, Hou, Jumei, Wang, Yuying, Jin, Yazhong, Borth, Wayne, Zhao, Fengzhou, Liu, Zheng, Hu, John, Zuo, Yuhu
Molecular genetics and genomics 2016 v.291 no.3 pp. 1105-1115
Curvularia lunata, Zea mays, carbon, corn, cutin, cutinase, exons, fungal spores, fungi, genes, growth retardation, host-pathogen relationships, introns, leaf spot, leaves, mutants, pathogenesis, pathogenicity, pathogens, phylogeny, proteins, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, saprophytes, sequence alignment, China
Cutinase is described as playing various roles in fungal–plant pathogen interactions, such as eliciting host-derived signals, fungal spore attachment and carbon acquisition during saprophytic growth. However, the characteristics of the cutinase genes, their expression in compatible interactions and their roles in pathogenesis have not been reported in Curvularia lunata, an important leaf spot pathogen of maize in China. Therefore, a cutinase gene family analysis could have profound significance. In this study, we identified 13 cutinase genes (ClCUT1 to ClCUT13) in the C. lunata genome. Multiple sequence alignment showed that most fungal cutinase proteins had one highly conserved GYSQG motif and a similar DxVCxG[ST]-[LIVMF](3)-x(3)H motif. Gene structure analyses of the cutinases revealed a complex intron–exon pattern with differences in the position and number of introns and exons. Based on phylogenetic relationship analysis, C. lunata cutinases and 78 known cutinase proteins from other fungi were classified into four groups with subgroups, but the C. lunata cutinases clustered in only three of the four groups. Motif analyses showed that each group of cutinases from C. lunata had a common motif. Real-time PCR indicated that transcript levels of the cutinase genes in a compatible interaction between pathogen and host had varied expression patterns. Interestingly, the transcript levels of ClCUT7 gradually increased during early pathogenesis with the most significant up-regulation at 3 h post-inoculation. When ClCUT7 was deleted, pathogenicity of the mutant decreased on unwounded maize (Zea mays) leaves. On wounded maize leaves, however, the mutant caused symptoms similar to the wild-type strain. Moreover, the ClCUT7 mutant had an approximately 10 % reduction in growth rate when cutin was the sole carbon source. In conclusion, we identified and characterized the cutinase family genes of C. lunata, analyzed their expression patterns in a compatible host–pathogen interaction, and explored the role of ClCUT7 in pathogenicity. This work will increase our understanding of cutinase genes in other fungal–plant pathogens.