Transcription factors Vrf1 and Hox7 coordinately regulate appressorium maturation in the rice blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae

Microbiol Res. 2022 Oct;263:127141. doi: 10.1016/j.micres.2022.127141. Epub 2022 Jul 30.


Magnaporthe oryzae infects rice, wheat and other grass crops through appressoria. The formation of the appressorium is regulated by the external environment, signal transduction pathways, and transcription factors. Transcription factors Vrf1 and Hox7 are involved in the regulation of appressorium formation. In this study, we demonstrate that Vrf1 and Hox7 play vital roles in coordinately regulating appressorium maturation. In strain 70-15, deletion of VRF1 resulted in the inability to continue melanization and maturation of the incipient appressorium, and deletion of HOX7 also resulted in defects in appressorium melanization and maturation. The defects in appressorium formation in Δhox7Δvrf1 were similar to those in Δhox7 and Δvrf1. The gene expression profiles of the incipient appressoria at 5 h post-inoculation (hpi) showed that the expression levels of 704 genes (25.94 % of all differentially expressed genes in the three mutants) were significantly downregulated (606 genes) or upregulated (98 genes). In the appressoria of Δhox7, Δvrf1, and Δhox7Δvrf1 at 5 hpi, the expression level of genes related to cell wall remodeling was changed. Genes for melanin synthesis, chitin and glucan degradation, and extracellular cell wall degrading enzyme were significantly downregulated, while genes for chitin and glucan synthesis were upregulated. After 8 hpi, the incipient appressoria of Δhox7, Δvrf1, and Δhox7Δvrf1 regerminated and formed swollen hyphal-like structures with multiple nuclei. The ratio of the nuclear number of the hyphal-like structures of Δhox7, Δhox7Δvrf1, and Δvrf1 was close to 6:4:2 at 24 hpi. Therefore, although Vrf1 and Hox7 are somewhat functionally different, they synergistically regulate appressorium maturation in M. oryzae.

Keywords: Appressorium formation; Cell cycle; Cell wall; Gene expression profiles; Melanin; Pyricularia oryzae.

MeSH terms

  • Ascomycota
  • Chitin / metabolism
  • Fungal Proteins / genetics
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal
  • Glucans / metabolism
  • Magnaporthe* / metabolism
  • Oryza* / microbiology
  • Plant Diseases / microbiology
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Fungal Proteins
  • Glucans
  • Transcription Factors
  • Chitin

Supplementary concepts

  • Pyricularia oryzae