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Overexpression of a 3-Ketoacyl-CoA Thiolase in Leptosphaeria maculans Causes Reduced Pathogenicity on Brassica napus

June 2006 , Volume 19 , Number  6
Pages  588 - 596

Candace E. Elliott and Barbara J. Howlett

School of Botany, The University of Melbourne, Victoria, 3010 Australia

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Accepted 27 January 2006.

Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated random mutagenesis was used to generate insertional mutants of the fungus Leptosphaeria maculans. Of 91 transformants screened, only one (A3) produced lesions of reduced size on cotyledons of canola (Brassica napus). Genes flanking the T-DNA insertion had the best matches to an alcohol dehydrogenase class 4 (ADH4)-like gene (Adh4L) and a 3-ketoacyl-CoA thiolase gene (Thiol) and were expressed in mutant A3 in vitro and in planta at significantly higher levels than in the wild type. This is the first report of a T-DNA insertion in fungi causing increased gene expression. Transformants of the wild-type isolate expressing both Adh4L and Thiol under the control of a heterologous promoter had similar pathogenicity to mutant A3. Ectopic expression of only thiolase resulted in loss of pathogenicity, suggesting that thiolase overexpression was primarily responsible for the reduced pathogenicity of the A3 isolate. The thiolase gene encoded a functional protein, as shown by assays in which a nontoxic substrate (2, 4 dichlorophenoxybutyric acid) was converted to a toxic product. The use of a translational fusion with a reporter gene showed thiolase expressed in organelles that are most likely peroxisomes.

Additional keywords: Aspergillus fumigatus, β-oxidation, glyoxylate pathway, Stagonospora nodorum

© 2006 The American Phytopathological Society