Maize Tumors Caused by Ustilago maydis Require Organ-Specific Genes in Host and Pathogen

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Science  02 Apr 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5974, pp. 89-92
DOI: 10.1126/science.1185775

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Infection of maize by corn smut (Ustilago maydis) provides an agronomically important model of biotrophic host-pathogen interactions. After penetration of the maize epidermis, fungal colonization of host tissue induces tumor formation on all aerial maize organs. We hypothesized that transformation of different primordia into plant tumors would require organ-specific gene expression by both host and pathogen and documented these differences by transcriptome profiling. Phenotypic screening of U. maydis mutants deleted for genes encoding secreted proteins and maize mutants with organ-specific defects confirmed organ-restricted tumorigenesis. This is the foundation for exploring how individual pathogen effectors, deployed in an organ-specific pattern, interact with host factors to reprogram normal ontogeny into a tumor pathway.

  • * These authors contributed equally to this work.

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