We have identified a gene, named hex-1, that encodes the major protein in the hexagonal crystals, or Woronin bodies, of Neurospora crassa. Analysis of a strain with a null mutation in the hex-1 gene showed that the septal pores in this organism were not plugged when hyphae were damaged, leading to extensive loss of cytoplasm. When grown on agar plates containing sorbose, the hex-1(-) strain showed extensive lysis of hyphal tips. The HEX-1 protein was predicted to be 19,125 Da. Analysis of the N-terminus of the purified protein indicated that 16 residues are cleaved, yielding a protein of 17,377 Da. A polyclonal antibody raised to the HEX-1 protein recognized multiple forms of the protein, apparently dimers and tetramers that were resistant to solubilization by sodium dodecyl sulfate and reducing reagents. Treatment of the protein with phosphatase caused dissociation of these oligomers. Preparations enriched in Woronin bodies contained catalase activity, which was not detected in comparable fractions from the hex-1(-) mutant strain. These results support the hypothesis that the Woronin body is a specialized peroxisome that functions as a plug for septal pores.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.