Two Cdc2 Kinase Genes with Distinct Functions in Vegetative and Infectious Hyphae in Fusarium graminearum

PLoS Pathog. 2015 Jun 17;11(6):e1004913. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1004913. eCollection 2015 Jun.


Eukaryotic cell cycle involves a number of protein kinases important for the onset and progression through mitosis, most of which are well characterized in the budding and fission yeasts and conserved in other fungi. However, unlike the model yeast and filamentous fungi that have a single Cdc2 essential for cell cycle progression, the wheat scab fungus Fusarium graminearum contains two CDC2 orthologs. The cdc2A and cdc2B mutants had no obvious defects in growth rate and conidiation but deletion of both of them is lethal, indicating that these two CDC2 orthologs have redundant functions during vegetative growth and asexual reproduction. However, whereas the cdc2B mutant was normal, the cdc2A mutant was significantly reduced in virulence and rarely produced ascospores. Although deletion of CDC2A had no obvious effect on the formation of penetration branches or hyphopodia, the cdc2A mutant was limited in the differentiation and growth of infectious growth in wheat tissues. Therefore, CDC2A plays stage-specific roles in cell cycle regulation during infectious growth and sexual reproduction. Both CDC2A and CDC2B are constitutively expressed but only CDC2A was up-regulated during plant infection and ascosporogenesis. Localization of Cdc2A- GFP to the nucleus but not Cdc2B-GFP was observed in vegetative hyphae, ascospores, and infectious hyphae. Complementation assays with chimeric fusion constructs showed that both the N- and C-terminal regions of Cdc2A are important for its functions in pathogenesis and ascosporogenesis but only the N-terminal region is important for its subcellular localization. Among the Sordariomycetes, only three Fusarium species closely related to F. graminearum have two CDC2 genes. Furthermore, F. graminearum uniquely has two Aurora kinase genes and one additional putative cyclin gene, and its orthologs of CAK1 and other four essential mitotic kinases in the budding yeast are dispensable for viability. Overall, our data indicate that cell cycle regulation is different between vegetative and infectious hyphae in F. graminearum and Cdc2A, possibly by interacting with a stage-specific cyclin, plays a more important role than Cdc2B during ascosporogenesis and plant infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Blotting, Southern
  • CDC2 Protein Kinase / genetics*
  • Cell Cycle / genetics
  • Fusariosis / genetics*
  • Fusarium / enzymology*
  • Fusarium / genetics
  • Hyphae / genetics
  • Immunoprecipitation
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny
  • Plant Diseases / genetics*
  • Triticum / microbiology
  • Two-Hybrid System Techniques


  • CDC2 Protein Kinase

Grant support

This work was supported by the National Major Project of Breeding for New Transgenic Organisms (2012ZX08009003), the National Basic Research Program of China (973 program) (2012CB114002 and 2013CB127702), and the Special Fund for Agro-scientific Research in the Public Interest (201303016). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.