Ustilago maydis, a new fungal model system for cell biology

Trends Cell Biol. 2008 Feb;18(2):61-7. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2007.11.008.


The use of fungal model systems, such as Saccharomyces cerevisisae and Schizosaccharomyces pombe, has contributed enormously to our understanding of essential cellular processes in animals. Here, we introduce the corn smut fungus Ustilago maydis as a new model organism for studying cell biological processes. Genome-wide analysis demonstrates that U. maydis is more closely related to humans than to budding yeast, and numerous proteins are shared only by U. maydis and Homo sapiens. Growing evidence suggests that basic principles of long-distance transport, mitosis and motor-based microtubule organization are conserved between U. maydis and humans. The fungus U. maydis, therefore, offers a unique system for the study of certain mammalian processes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biological Transport / physiology
  • Cell Polarity / physiology
  • DNA Repair
  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Microtubules / physiology
  • Mitosis / physiology*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Proteomics
  • Ustilago* / cytology
  • Ustilago* / genetics
  • Ustilago* / physiology