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The feruloyl esterase gene family of Fusarium graminearum is differentially regulated by aromatic compounds and hosts

Balcerzak, M., Harris, L.J., Subramaniam, R., Ouellet, T. (2012). The feruloyl esterase gene family of Fusarium graminearum is differentially regulated by aromatic compounds and hosts, 116(4), 478-488.


Feruloyl esterases can liberate ferulic acid (FA) from plant cell wall polymers. They are expressed by plant pathogenic fungi and could play a role in pathogenicity, although this question has not been addressed yet. The fungus . Fusarium graminearum is the principal causal agent of fusarium head blight (FHB) and gibberella ear rot (GER), major diseases of wheat, barley, and maize in all temperate regions of the world. The . F. graminearum genome contains seven genes with strong homology to feruloyl esterase (. FAE) sequences. Phylogenetic analysis showed that these included three type B, three type C, and one type D . FAE genes. Expression profiling of the seven . FAE genes showed complex regulation patterns unique to each gene. In . F. graminearum-infected plant tissues, the . FAE genes exhibited host-specific gene expression. On wheat, . FAEB1 and . FAED1 were strongly expressed while . FAEB2, . FAEB3, and . FAEC1 were expressed at more modest levels. On maize, only . FAEB3, . FAEC1, and . FAED1 were expressed and at low levels. When growing . F. graminearum in liquid culture, only . FAEB1 and . FAEC1 were expressed. Both genes were induced by a small group of related aromatic compounds including FA, caffeic acid, and . p-coumaric acid. . FAEB1 was induced by xylose, while repressed by glucose and galactose. . FAEC1 was constitutively expressed at low levels in the presence of those sugars. Expression of the other five . FAE genes was not detected in the culture conditions used. To determine if . FAE genes were important for pathogenicity of . F. graminearum, mutant strains inactivated for . faeB1{increment}, . faeD1{increment} or both genes were constructed and tested on wheat plants. No statistically significant change in pathogenicity and no compensatory expression of the other . FAE genes were observed in the . fae gene mutants. Our results show that . FAEB1 and . FAED1 are not required for pathogenicity of . F. graminearum on wheat. © 2012.

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