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Systematic characterization of ROS-responsive transcription factors in Verticillium dahliae

Chen Tang: Beijing Forestry University

<div><em>Verticillium dahliae</em> is a soilborne fungus that causes plant vascular wilt disease, and poses a serious threat to hundreds of species, including numerous economically important crops. For successful invasions of host plants, fungi have deployed complex strategies to counteract harmful effects of reactive oxygen species (ROS) produced by plant. This study focused on elucidating the molecular basis of how <em>V. dahliae</em> regulates the oxidative stress response by characterizing the roles of ROS-responsive transcription factor orthologs, such as <em>VdYap1</em>, <em>VdAtf1</em>, and <em>VdSkn7</em>, in pathogenesis. Single and double deletion mutants of <em>VdYap1</em>, <em>VdAtf1</em>, and <em>VdSkn7 </em>were generated and the mutants were functionally characterized. The results revealed that VdSkn7 contributes to microsclerotial development, virulence and stress responses, while VdAtf1 is involved in the conidial production, and regulation of the activity of extracellular peroxidases and laccases, and virulence. Compared to either the single mutants or the wild-type strain, the double mutant (<em>VdAtf1 </em>and <em>VdSkn7</em>) exhibited significantly increased sensitivity to oxidative stress, as well as severe defects in conidiation and virulence. The mutant <em>VdYap1</em> also showed reduced responses to oxidative stress and a reduction in virulence. Transcriptomic and proteomic analysis were used to uncover the common and specific genes or pathways regulated by the three ROS-responsive transcription factors. Together, our results indicate that VdYap1, VdAtf1, and VdSkn7 have overlapping functions, with some very distinct differences, in modulation of the anti-oxidative response, microsclerotial formation, and ROS signaling for pathogenesis in <em>V. dahliae</em>.</div>

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