PFP1, a gene encoding an Epc-N domain-containing protein, is essential for pathogenicity of the barley pathogen Rhynchosporium commune.
ABSTRACT Scald caused by Rhynchosporium commune is an important foliar disease of barley. Insertion mutagenesis of R. commune generated a nonpathogenic fungal mutant which carries the inserted plasmid in the upstream region of a gene named PFP1 . The characteristic feature of the gene product is an Epc-N domain. This motif is also found in homologous proteins shown to be components of histone acetyltransferase (HAT) complexes of fungi and animals. Therefore, PFP1 is suggested to be the subunit of a HAT complex in R. commune with an essential role in the epigenetic control of fungal pathogenicity. Targeted PFP1 disruption also yielded nonpathogenic mutants which showed wild-type-like growth ex planta , except for the occurrence of hyphal swellings. Complementation of the deletion mutants with the wild-type gene reestablished pathogenicity and suppressed the hyphal swellings. However, despite wild-type-level PFP1 expression, the complementation mutants did not reach wild-type-level virulence. This indicates that the function of the protein complex and, thus, fungal virulence are influenced by a position-affected long-range control of PFP1 expression.