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Tandem KH domains of Khd4 recognize AUACCC and are essential for regulation of morphology as well as pathogenicity in Ustilago maydis.
RNA 15, 2206-2218 (2009)
RNA-binding proteins constitute key factors of the post-transcriptional machinery. These regulatory proteins recognize specific elements within target transcripts to promote, for example, maturation, translation, or stability of mRNAs. In Ustilago maydis, evidence is accumulating that post-transcriptional processes are important to determine pathogenicity. Deletion of khd4, encoding a predicted RNA-binding protein with five K homology (KH) domains, causes aberrant cell morphology and reduced virulence. Here, we demonstrate that Khd4 recognizes the sequence AUACCC in vivo via its tandem KH domains 3 and 4. This sequence most likely functions as a regulatory RNA element in U. maydis, since it accumulates in 3' untranslated regions. Consistently, an independent mRNA expression profiling approach revealed that the binding motif is significantly enriched in transcripts showing altered expression levels in khd4 Delta strains. Since the vast majority of potential Khd4 target mRNAs exhibit increased amounts in deletion mutants, Khd4 might promote mRNA instability. Mutants that fail to bind AUACCC resemble deletion mutants, which exhibit altered cell morphology, disturbed filamentous growth, and severely reduced virulence. Hence, RNA binding is essential for function of Khd4, stressing the importance of post-transcriptional control in regulating morphology and pathogenicity.
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Publication type Article: Journal article
Document type Scientific Article
Keywords three-hybrid screen; K homology domain; microarray; plant pathogen; YEAST 3-HYBRID SYSTEM; RNA-PROTEIN INTERACTIONS; MESSENGER-RNAS; BINDING PROTEIN; IN-VIVO; IDENTIFICATION; DEGRADATION; TURNOVER; REVEALS; GENOME