Departamento de Genética, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Córdoba, 14071 Córdoba, Spain
pg1 encoding the major in vitro extracellular endopolygalacturonase of the tomato vascular wilt pathogen Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. lycopersici was cloned and sequenced. The deduced mature protein had a calculated molecular mass of 35.5 kDa and a pI of 6.2, and showed significant similarity with other fungal endoPGs. pg1 mRNA was induced in vitro by citrus pectin, tomato vascular tissue, 0.1% D-galacturonic acid, and polygalacturonic acid, and repressed by 1% D-galacturonic acid and 1% glucose. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction revealed pg1 expression in roots and lower stems of tomato plants infected by F. oxysporum f. sp. lycopersici. Three naturally occurring F. oxysporum f. sp. melonis isolates deficient in PG1 were transformed with the cloned gene. The PG1 enzyme secreted by the transformants had the same molecular mass, pI, and glycosylation pattern as those of the donor isolate. Polygalacturonase activity in cultures of transformants grown in vitro on citrus pectin and on melon plants, but not on glucose, increased 10- to 20-fold, compared with the PG1-deficient wild-type isolate, whereas mycelial dry weight increased two- to threefold. Transformants exhibited the same degree of virulence toward susceptible muskmelon cultivars as the wild-type isolate and were avirulent on a resistant cultivar.