The actin cytoskeleton and actin-coupled endocytosis are conserved cellular processes required for the normal growth and pathogenesis of the rice blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae. We have previously shown that actin regulating kinase MoArk1 regulates actin dynamics and endocytosis to play a key role in virulence of the fungus. To understand the underlying mechanism, we have characterized the actin-binding protein MoAbp1 that interacts with MoArk1 from M. oryzae. The ΔMoabp1 mutant exhibited delayed endocytosis and defects in growth, host penetration, and invasive growth. Consistent with its putative function associated with actin-binding, MoAbp1 regulates the localization of actin patches and plays a role in MoArk1 phosphorylation. In addition, MoAbp1 interacts with MoCap (adenylyl cyclase-associated protein) affecting its normal patch localization pattern and the actin protein MoAct1 through its conserved domains. Taken together, our results support a notion that MoAbp1 functions as a protein scaffold linking MoArk1, MoCap1, and MoAct1 to regulate actin cytoskeleton dynamics critical in growth and pathogenicity of the blast fungus.
Keywords: actin cytoskeleton; endocytosis; virulence.