All fungi use multiple mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascades to respond to external signals to regulate specialized responses. In this study, we cloned and characterized a putative MAPKKK gene ChSte11, orthologous to yeast STE11, of Cochliobolus heterostrophus. ΔChste11 strains showed defects in conidiation, sexual development, melanization and the formation of appressoria. These mutants were significantly less virulent on corn plants than the wild type. Similar phenotypes were observed in mutants of Chk1-MAPK, a putative downstream protein kinase of ChSte11. These results suggested that ChSte11 regulates various morphological changes and pathogenicity via Chk1 MAPK. Both ΔChste11 and Δchk1 strains showed severe sensitivity to oxidative stress, hydrogen peroxide, and heavy metals, cupric or ferric cations. ΔBmhog1 strains, mutants of the HOG1-type MAPK, did not show sensitivity to these forms of stress. Our results strongly suggested that the Ste11-type MAPKKK regulates not only various morphological changes and pathogenicity, but also adaptations to stress via Chk1-type MAPK in filamentous fungi.
ASJC Scopus subject areas