Broad Substrate-Specific Phosphorylation Events Are Associated With the Initial Stage of Plant Cell Wall Recognition in Neurospora crassa

Maria Augusta C. Horta, Nils Thieme, Yuqian Gao, Kristin E. Burnum-Johnson, Carrie D. Nicora, Marina A. Gritsenko, Mary S. Lipton, Karthikeyan Mohanraj, Leandro José de Assis, Liangcai Lin, Chaoguang Tian, Gerhard H. Braus, Katherine A. Borkovich, Monika Schmoll, Luis F. Larrondo, Areejit Samal, Gustavo H. Goldman, J. Philipp Benz

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22 Scopus citations


Fungal plant cell wall degradation processes are governed by complex regulatory mechanisms, allowing the organisms to adapt their metabolic program with high specificity to the available substrates. While the uptake of representative plant cell wall mono- and disaccharides is known to induce specific transcriptional and translational responses, the processes related to early signal reception and transduction remain largely unknown. A fast and reversible way of signal transmission are post-translational protein modifications, such as phosphorylations, which could initiate rapid adaptations of the fungal metabolism to a new condition. To elucidate how changes in the initial substrate recognition phase of Neurospora crassa affect the global phosphorylation pattern, phospho-proteomics was performed after a short (2 min) induction period with several plant cell wall-related mono- and disaccharides. The MS/MS-based peptide analysis revealed large-scale substrate-specific protein phosphorylation and de-phosphorylations. Using the proteins identified by MS/MS, a protein-protein-interaction (PPI) network was constructed. The variance in phosphorylation of a large number of kinases, phosphatases and transcription factors indicate the participation of many known signaling pathways, including circadian responses, two-component regulatory systems, MAP kinases as well as the cAMP-dependent and heterotrimeric G-protein pathways. Adenylate cyclase, a key component of the cAMP pathway, was identified as a potential hub for carbon source-specific differential protein interactions. In addition, four phosphorylated F-Box proteins were identified, two of which, Fbx-19 and Fbx-22, were found to be involved in carbon catabolite repression responses. Overall, these results provide unprecedented and detailed insights into a so far less well known stage of the fungal response to environmental cues and allow to better elucidate the molecular mechanisms of sensory perception and signal transduction during plant cell wall degradation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2317
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2019


  • Neurospora crassa
  • fungi
  • lignocellulose degradation
  • phosphorylation
  • proteomics
  • signal transduction
  • substrate recognition


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