A bZIP transcription factor from Phytophthora interacts with a protein kinase and is required for zoospore motility and plant infection

Mol Microbiol. 2005 May;56(3):638-48. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2005.04575.x.


Zoospores are critical in the disease cycle of Phytophthora infestans, a member of the oomycete group of fungus-like microbes and the cause of potato late blight. A protein kinase induced during zoosporogenesis, Pipkz1, was shown to interact in the yeast two-hybrid system with a putative bZIP transcription factor. This interaction was confirmed in vitro using a pull-down assay. The transcription factor gene, Pibzp1, was single copy and expressed in all tissues. Transformants of P. infestans stably silenced for Pibzp1 were generated using plasmids expressing its coding region in sense or antisense orientations. A protoplast transformation method induced silencing more efficiently than transformation by an electroporation scheme. Wild-type and silenced strains exhibited no differences in hyphal growth or morphology, mating, sporangia production or zoospore release. However, zoospores from the mutants spun in tight circles, instead of exhibiting the normal pattern of straight swimming punctuated by turns. Zoospore encystment was unaffected by silencing, but cysts germinated more efficiently than controls. Germinated cysts from the mutants failed to develop appressoria and were unable to infect plants; however, they could colonize wounded tissue. These phenotypes indicate that Pibzp1 is a key regulator of several stages of the zoospore-mediated infection pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Algal Proteins / genetics
  • Algal Proteins / metabolism
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Basic-Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • G-Box Binding Factors
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Gene Silencing
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Phytophthora / genetics
  • Phytophthora / growth & development
  • Phytophthora / pathogenicity*
  • Plant Diseases / microbiology*
  • Protein Kinases / genetics
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Spores, Fungal / physiology
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • Algal Proteins
  • Basic-Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • G-Box Binding Factors
  • Transcription Factors
  • Protein Kinases