Abundant small protein icarus inside the cell wall of stress-resistant ascospores of talaromyces macrosporus suggests a novel mechanism of constitutive dormancy

Jan Dijksterhuis*, Timon Wyatt, Micha Hanssen, Elena Golovina, Folkert Hoekstra, Luis Lugones

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Ascospores of Talaromyces.macrosporus belong to the most stress resistant eukaryotic cells and show a constitutive dormancy, i.e., no germination occurs in the presence of rich growth me-dium. Only an extreme trigger as very high temperature or pressure is able to evoke synchronized germination. In this study, several changes within the thick cell wall of these cells are observed after a heat treatment: (i.) a change in its structure as shown with EPR and X-ray diffraction; (ii.) a release of an abundant protein into the supernatant, which is proportional to the extent of heat activation; (iii.) a change in the permeability of the cell wall as judged by fluorescence studies in which staining of the interior of the cell wall correlates with germination of individual ascospores. The gene encod-ing the protein, dubbed ICARUS, was studied in detail and was expressed under growth conditions that showed intense ascomata (fruit body) and ascospore formation. It encodes a small 7–14 kD protein. Blast search exhibits that different Talaromyces species show a similar sequence, indicating that the protein also occurs in other species of the genus. Deletion strains show delayed ascomata formation, release of pigments into the growth medium, higher permeability of the cell wall and a markedly shorter heat activation needed for activation. Further, wild type ascospores are more heat-resistant. All these observations suggest that the protein plays a role in dormancy and is related to the structure and permeability of the ascospore cell wall. However, more research on this topic is needed to study constitutive dormancy in other fungal species that form stress-resistant ascospores.

Original languageEnglish
Article number216
JournalJournal of Fungi
Volume7
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2021

Keywords

  • Ascospore
  • Dormancy
  • Food spoilage
  • Germination
  • Heat-resistant fungi
  • Stress resistance
  • Talaromyces

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