We previously reported that the group III histidine kinase Dic1p in the maize pathogen Cochliobolus heterostrophus is involved in resistance to dicarboximide and phenylpyrrole fungicides and in osmotic adaptation. In addition, exposure to the phenylpyrrole fungicide fludioxonil led to improper activation of Hog1-type mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) in some phytopathogenic fungi, including C. heterostrophus. Here we report, for the first time, the relationship between the group III histidine kinase and Hog1-related MAPK: group III histidine kinase is a positive regulator of Hog1-related MAPK in filamentous fungi. The phosphorylation pattern of C. heterostrophus BmHog1p (Hog1-type MAPK) was analyzed in wild-type and dic1-deficient strains by Western blotting. In the wild-type strain, phosphorylated BmHog1p was detected after exposure to both iprodione and fludioxonil at a concentration of 1 μg/ml. In the dic1-deficient strains, phosphorylated BmHog1p was not detected after exposure to 10 μg/ml of the fungicides. In response to osmotic stress (0.4 M KCl), a trace of phosphorylated BmHog1p was found in the dic1-deficient strains, whereas the band representing active BmHog1p was clearly detected in the wild-type strain. Similar results were obtained for Neurospora crassa Os-2p MAPK phosphorylation in the mutant of the group III histidine kinase gene os-1. These results indicate that group III histidine kinase positively regulates the activation of Hog1-type MAPKs in filamentous fungi. Notably, the Hog1-type MAPKs were activated at high fungicide (100 μg/ml) and osmotic stress (0.8 M KCl) levels in the histidine kinase mutants of both fungi, suggesting that another signaling pathway activates Hog1-type MAPKs in these conditions.
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