The ukc1 gene encodes a protein kinase involved in morphogenesis, pathogenicity and pigment formation in Ustilago maydis

Mol Gen Genet. 1999 Mar;261(2):281-9. doi: 10.1007/s004380050968.


The fungal phytopathogen Ustilago maydis alternates between budding and filamentous growth during its life cycle. This dimorphic transition, which is influenced by environmental factors and mating, is regulated in part by cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA). We have recently identified a related protein kinase, encoded by the ukc1 gene, that also plays a role in determining cell shape. The ukc1 gene is homologous to several other protein kinase-encoding genes including the cot-I gene of Neurospora crassa, the TB3 gene of Colletotrichum trifolii, the orb6 gene of Schizosaccharomyces pombe, the warts tumor suppressor gene of Drosophila melanogaster and the myotonic dystrophy kinase gene in humans. Disruption of the ukc1 gene in U. maydis resulted in cells that were highly distorted in their morphology, incapable of generating aerial filaments during mating in culture and defective in their ability to cause disease on corn seedlings. In addition, the cells of ukc1 mutants became highly pigmented and resembled the chlamydospore-like cells that have been described for U. maydis. Overall, these results demonstrate an important role for the ukc1-encoded protein kinase in the morphogenesis, pathogenesis and pigmentation of U. maydis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA, Fungal
  • Fungal Proteins*
  • Genes, Fungal*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Morphogenesis
  • Mutagenesis
  • Pigments, Biological
  • Protein Kinases / genetics*
  • Protein Kinases / physiology
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Ustilago / enzymology*
  • Ustilago / genetics*
  • Ustilago / pathogenicity
  • Ustilago / physiology


  • DNA, Fungal
  • Fungal Proteins
  • Pigments, Biological
  • Protein Kinases
  • ukc1 protein, Ustilago maydis

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AF041843