The pheromone response factor coordinates filamentous growth and pathogenicity in Ustilago maydis

EMBO J. 1996 Apr 1;15(7):1632-41.


In Ustilago maydis, the a and b mating type loci regulate cell fusion, filamentous growth and pathogenicity. The a locus encodes a pheromone-based cell recognition system, and the b locus specifies two homeodomain proteins. The expression of all genes in the a and b loci is induced by pheromone. We have identified a HMG protein (Prf1) that binds sequence specifically to pheromone response elements present in the a and b loci. prf1 mutants do not express the a and b genes and are sterile. The disruption of prf1 in pathogenic haploid strains results in a loss of pathogenicity. The constitutive expression of the b genes restores pathogenicity and induces filamentous growth in the absence of the pheromone signal. These results provide evidence that pheromone signalling, filamentous growth and pathogenic development are linked through Prf1.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA Primers / genetics
  • DNA, Fungal / genetics
  • Fungal Proteins / genetics
  • Fungal Proteins / physiology
  • Genes, Fungal
  • Genes, Mating Type, Fungal
  • High Mobility Group Proteins / genetics
  • High Mobility Group Proteins / physiology
  • Mating Factor
  • Models, Genetic
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Peptides / genetics*
  • Peptides / physiology
  • Pheromones / genetics*
  • Pheromones / physiology
  • Plant Proteins*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / physiology
  • Ustilago / genetics*
  • Ustilago / growth & development
  • Ustilago / pathogenicity


  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Fungal
  • Fungal Proteins
  • High Mobility Group Proteins
  • Peptides
  • Pheromones
  • Plant Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • pheromone response factor 1, Ustilago maydis
  • Mating Factor

Associated data

  • GENBANK/U40753