A Rab GTPase protein FvSec4 is necessary for fumonisin B1 biosynthesis and virulence in Fusarium verticillioides

  • Huijuan Yan
  • Jun Huang
  • Huan Zhang
  • Won Bo ShimEmail author
Original Article


Rab GTPases are responsible for a variety of membrane trafficking and vesicular transportation in fungi. But the role of Rab GTPases in Fusarium verticillioides, one of the key corn pathogens worldwide, remains elusive. These Small GTPases in fungi, particularly those homologous to Saccharomyces cerevisiae Sec4, are known to be associated with protein secretion, vesicular trafficking, secondary metabolism and pathogenicity. In this study, our aim was to investigate the molecular functions of FvSec4 in F. verticillioides associated with physiology and virulence. Interestingly, the FvSec4 null mutation did not impair the expression of key conidiation-related genes. Also, the mutant did not show any defect in sexual development, including perithecia production. Meanwhile, GFP-FvSec4 localized to growing hyphal tips and raised the possibility that FvSec4 is involved in protein trafficking and endocytosis. The mutant exhibited defect in corn stalk rot virulence and also significant alteration of fumonisin B1 production. The mutation led to higher sensitivity to oxidative and cell wall stress agents, and defects in carbon utilization. Gene complementation fully restored the defects in the mutant demonstrating that FvSec4 plays important roles in these functions. Taken together, our data indicate that FvSec4 is critical in F. verticillioides hyphal development, virulence, mycotoxin production and stress responses.


Fusarium verticillioides Rab GTPase Sec4 Fumonisin B1 Virulence 



We thank Dr. Brian Shaw, Ms. Blake Commer and Mr. Joe Vasselli (Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, Texas A&M University) for help and discussion in microscopy. This research was supported in part by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program Grant (2013-68004-20359) from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Huijuan Yan
    • 1
  • Jun Huang
    • 2
  • Huan Zhang
    • 3
  • Won Bo Shim
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Plant Pathology and MicrobiologyTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  2. 2.Department of Plant PathologyKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA
  3. 3.Department of BiologyTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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