A G alpha subunit controls zoospore motility and virulence in the potato late blight pathogen Phytophthora infestans

M. Latijnhouwers, J.W. Ligterink, V.G.A.A. Vleeshouwers, P. van West, F. Govers

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101 Citations (Scopus)


The heterotrimeric G-protein pathway is a ubiquitous eukaryotic signalling module that is known to regulate growth and differentiation in many plant pathogens. We previously identified Pigpa1, a gene encoding a G-protein alpha subunit from the potato late blight pathogen Phytophthora infestans. P. infestans belongs to the class oomycetes, a group of organisms in which signal transduction processes have not yet been studied at the molecular level. To elucidate the function of Pigpa1, PiGPA1-deficient mutants were obtained by homology-dependent gene silencing. The Pigpa1-silenced mutants produced zoospores that turned six to eight times more frequently, causing them to swim only short distances compared with wild type. Attraction to the surface, a phenomenon known as negative geotaxis, was impaired in the mutant zoospores, as well as autoaggregation and chemotaxis towards glutamic and aspartic acid. Zoospore production was reduced by 20-45% in different Pigpa1-silenced mutants. Transformants expressing constitutively active forms of PiGPA1, containing amino acid substitutions (R177H and Q203L), showed no obvious phenotypic differences from the wild-type strain. Infection efficiencies on potato leaves ranged from 3% to 14% in the Pigpa1-silenced mutants, compared with 77% in wild type, showing that virulence is severely impaired. The results prove that PiGPA1 is crucial for zoospore motility and for pathogenicity in an important oomycete plant pathogen.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)925-936
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • heterotrimeric g-proteins
  • beta-subunit
  • arabidopsis-thaliana
  • fungus phytophthora
  • cryphonectria-parasitica
  • signal-transduction
  • cell-proliferation
  • neurospora-crassa
  • gamma-subunit
  • genes

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