Extracellular Vesicles from Fusarium graminearum Contain Protein Effectors Expressed during Infection of Corn.

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Garcia-Ceron, Donovan 
McKenna, James A 
Brain, Linda M 
Dawson, Charlotte S 

Fusarium graminearum (Fgr) is a devastating filamentous fungal pathogen that causes diseases in cereals, while producing mycotoxins that are toxic for humans and animals, and render grains unusable. Low efficiency in managing Fgr poses a constant need for identifying novel control mechanisms. Evidence that fungal extracellular vesicles (EVs) from pathogenic yeast have a role in human disease led us to question whether this is also true for fungal plant pathogens. We separated EVs from Fgr and performed a proteomic analysis to determine if EVs carry proteins with potential roles in pathogenesis. We revealed that protein effectors, which are crucial for fungal virulence, were detected in EV preparations and some of them did not contain predicted secretion signals. Furthermore, a transcriptomic analysis of corn (Zea mays) plants infected by Fgr revealed that the genes of some of the effectors were highly expressed in vivo, suggesting that the Fgr EVs are a mechanism for the unconventional secretion of effectors and virulence factors. Our results expand the knowledge on fungal EVs in plant pathogenesis and cross-kingdom communication, and may contribute to the discovery of new antifungals.

EVs, fungal extracellular vesicles, fungi, Fusarium graminearum, protein effectors, unconventional secretion, virulence factors
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J Fungi (Basel)
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Australian Research Council (DP160100309, DP200103393)