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Duplication of a Pks gene cluster and subsequent functional diversification facilitate environmental adaptation in Metarhizium species

by Guohong Zeng, Peng Zhang, Qiangqiang Zhang, Hong Zhao, Zixin Li, Xing Zhang, Chengshu Wang, Wen-Bing Yin, Weiguo Fang

The ecological importance of the duplication and diversification of gene clusters that synthesize secondary metabolites in fungi remains poorly understood. Here, we demonstrated that the duplication and subsequent diversification of a gene cluster produced two polyketide synthase gene clusters in the cosmopolitan fungal genus Metarhizium. Diversification occurred in the promoter regions and the exon-intron structures of the two Pks paralogs (Pks1 and Pks2). These two Pks genes have distinct expression patterns, with Pks1 highly expressed during conidiation and Pks2 highly expressed during infection. Different upstream signaling pathways were found to regulate the two Pks genes. Pks1 is positively regulated by Hog1-MAPK, Slt2-MAPK and Mr-OPY2, while Pks2 is positively regulated by Fus3-MAPK and negatively regulated by Mr-OPY2. Pks1 and Pks2 have been subjected to positive selection and synthesize different secondary metabolites. PKS1 is involved in synthesis of an anthraquinone derivative, and contributes to conidial pigmentation, which plays an important role in fungal tolerance to UV radiation and extreme temperatures. Disruption of the Pks2 gene delayed formation of infectious structures and increased the time taken to kill insects, indicating that Pks2 contributes to pathogenesis. Thus, the duplication of a Pks gene cluster and its subsequent functional diversification has increased the adaptive flexibility of Metarhizium species.

Authors:   Guohong Zeng; Peng Zhang; Qiangqiang Zhang; Hong Zhao; Zixin Li; Xing Zhang; Chengshu Wang; Wen-Bing Yin; Weiguo Fang
Journal:   PLoS Genetics
Volume:   14
edition:   6
Year:   2018
Pages:   e1007472
DOI:   10.1371/journal.pgen.1007472
Publication date:   29-Jun-2018
Facts, background information, dossiers
  • Intron
  • insects
  • Genus
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