Modulation of fungal virulence through CRZ1 regulated F-BAR-dependent actin remodeling and endocytosis in chickpea infecting phytopathogen Ascochyta rabiei
Polarized hyphal growth of filamentous pathogenic fungi is an essential event for host penetration and colonization. The long-range early endosomal trafficking during hyphal growth is crucial for nutrient uptake, sensing of host-specific cues, and regulation of effector production. Bin1/Amphiphysin/Rvs167 (BAR) domain-containing proteins mediate fundamental cellular processes, including membrane remodeling and endocytosis. Here, we identified a F-BAR domain protein (ArF-BAR) in the necrotrophic
... in the necrotrophic fungus Ascochyta rabiei and demonstrate its involvement in endosome-dependent fungal virulence on the host plant Cicer arietinum. We show that ArF-BAR regulates endocytosis at the hyphal tip, localizes to the early endosomes, and is involved in actin dynamics. Functional studies involving gene knockout and complementation experiments reveal that ArF-BAR is necessary for virulence. The loss-of-function of ArF-BAR gene results in delayed formation of apical septum in fungal cells near growing hyphal tip that is crucial for host penetration, and impaired secretion of a candidate effector having secretory signal peptide for translocation across the endoplasmic reticulum membrane. The mRNA transcripts of ArF-BAR were induced in response to oxidative stress and infection. We also show that ArF-BAR is able to tubulate synthetic liposomes, suggesting the functional role of F-BAR domain in membrane tubule formation in vivo. Further, our studies identified a stress-induced transcription factor, ArCRZ1 (Calcineurin-responsive zinc finger 1), as key transcriptional regulator of ArF-BAR expression. We propose a model in which ArCRZ1 functions upstream of ArF-BAR to regulate A. rabiei virulence through a mechanism that involves endocytosis, effector secretion, and actin cytoskeleton regulation.