A Rab GTPase protein FvSec4 is necessary for fumonisin B1 biosynthesis and virulence in Fusarium verticillioides
Rab GTPases are responsible for a variety of membrane trafficking and vesicular transportation in fungi. But the role of Rab GTPases in Fusarium verticillioides, one of the key corn pathogens worldwide, remains elusive. These Small GTPases in fungi, particularly those homologous to Saccharomyces cerevisiae Sec4, are known to be associated with protein secretion, vesicular trafficking, secondary metabolism and pathogenicity. Here, we characterized the molecular functions of FvSec4 by generating a null mutant and learned that it is important for vegetative growth, hyphal branching, and conidiation. Interestingly, the mutation did not impair the expression of key conidiation-related genes. Meanwhile, the mutant did not show any defect in sexual development, including perithecia production. GFP-FvSec4 localized to growing hyphal tips, and raised the possibility that FvSec4 is involved in protein trafficking and endocytosis. The mutant exhibited defect in corn stalk rot virulence and also significant alteration of fumonisn B1 production. The mutation led to more sensitivity to oxidative and cell wall stress agents, and defects in carbon utilization. Gene complementation fully restored the defects in the mutant demonstrating that FvSec4 plays important role in these functions. Taken together, our data indicate that FvSec4 plays important roles in F. verticillioides hyphal development, virulence, mycotoxin production and stresses response. Further study is needed to characterize whether the mutation in FvSec4 leads to altered vesicle trafficking and protein secretion, which ultimately impact F. verticillioides physiology and virulence.
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