Karos and Fischer 1999

Molecular characterization of HymA, an evolutionarily highly conserved and highly expressed protein of Aspergillus nidulans. Mol. Gen. Genet., 260, 510-521.

Karos, M. & Fischer, R.



Aspergillus nidulans reproduces asexually via uninucleate, haploid spores, which are produced on morphologically differentiated aerial structures, called conidiophores. These consist of four distinct cell types, a foot with a terminally swollen stalk, metulae, phialides and conidiospores. The molecular mechanisms underlying the morphological changes that occur during conidiophore development have been studied by mutant analysis. We have isolated the hym A mutant, in which conidiophore development is affected at the metula stage. In the mutant metulae do not differentiate properly but come to resemble hyphae (hym = hypha-like metulae). In this paper we have analyzed the corresponding gene. It encodes a highly expressed 44 kDa protein which resides in the cytoplasm and has homologues in yeast, plants, fly, worm, fish, mice and man. We constructed hym deletion strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and of A. nidulans and found that the gene is essential in S. cerevisiae but is dispensable in the filamentous fungus. A cellular function for the Hym protein has not yet been defined in any organism. To demonstrate functional conservation we constructed a chimeric protein comprised of the N-terminal half of the A. nidulans and the C-terminal half of the mouse homologue MO25. This hybrid protein could fully substitute for HymA function in A. nidulans. In addition, the mouse protein itself partially rescued the hym A mutation in the fungus. HymA is thus highly conserved in evolution and probably serves similar functions. The fact that hym A is required for conidiophore development in A. nidulans suggests that homologous genes in other organisms might also be involved in morphogenesis.