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The MAP kinase HwHog1 from the halophilic black yeast Hortaea werneckii: coping with stresses in solar salterns

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Author(s): Lenassi Metka | Vaupotic Tomaz | Gunde-Cimerman Nina | Plemenitas Ana

Journal: Saline Systems
ISSN 1746-1448

Volume: 3;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 3;
Date: 2007;
Original page

ABSTRACT
Abstract Background Hortaea werneckii is one of the most salt-tolerant species among microorganisms. It has been isolated from hypersaline waters of salterns as one of the predominant species of a group of halophilic and halotolerant melanized yeast-like fungi, arbitrarily named as "black yeasts". It has previously been shown that H. werneckii has distinct mechanisms of adaptation to high salinity environments that are not seen in salt-sensitive and only moderately salt-tolerant fungi. In H. werneckii, the HOG pathway is important for sensing the changes in environmental osmolarity, as demonstrated by identification of three main pathway components: the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) HwHog1, the MAPK kinase HwPbs2, and the putative histidine kinase osmosensor HwHhk7. Results In this study, we show that the expression of HwHOG1 in salt-adapted cells depends on the environmental salinity and that HwHOG1 transcription responds rapidly but reciprocally to the acute hyper-saline or hypo-saline stress. Molecular modelling of HwHog1 reveals an overall structural homology with other MAPKs. HwHog1 complements the function of ScHog1 in the Saccharomyces cerevisiae multistress response. We also show that hyper-osmolar, oxidative and high-temperature stresses activate the HwHog1 kinase, although under high-temperature stress the signal is not transmitted via the MAPK kinase Pbs2. Identification of HOG1-like genes from other halotolerant fungi isolated from solar salterns demonstrates a high degree of similarity and excellent phylogenetic clustering with orthologues of fungal origin. Conclusion The HOG signalling pathway has an important role in sensing and responding to hyper-osmolar, oxidative and high-temperature stresses in the halophilic fungi H. werneckii. These findings are an important advance in our understanding of the HOG pathway response to stress in H. werneckii, a proposed model organism for studying the salt tolerance of halophilic and halotolerant eukaryotes.
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