Genomic distribution of a novel Pyrenophora tritici-repentis ToxA insertion element
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© 2018 Moolhuijzen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. The ToxA effector is a major virulence gene of Pyrenophora tritici-repentis (Ptr), a necrotrophic fungus and the causal agent of tan spot disease of wheat. ToxA and co-located genes are believed to be the result of a recent horizontally transferred highly conserved 14kb region a major pathogenic event for Ptr. Since this event, monitoring isolates for pathogenic changes has become important to help understand the underlying mechanisms in play. Here we examined ToxA in 100 Ptr isolates from Australia, Europe, North and South America and the Middle East, and uncovered in isolates from Denmark, Germany and New Zealand a new variation, a novel 166 bp insertion element (PtrHp1) which can form a perfectly matched 59 bp inverted repeat hairpin structure located downstream of the ToxA coding sequence in the 3' UTR exon. A wider examination revealed PtrHp1 elements to be distributed throughout the genome. Analysis of genomes from Australia and North America had 50-112 perfect copies that often overlap other genes. The hairpin element appears to be unique to Ptr and the lack of ancient origins in other species suggests that PtrHp1 emerged after Ptr speciation. Furthermore, the ToxA UTR insertion site is identical for different isolates, which suggests a single insertion event occurred after the ToxA horizontal transfer. In vitro and in planta-detached leaf assays found that the PtrHp1 element insertion had no effect on ToxA expression. However, variation in the expression of ToxA was detected between the Ptr isolates from different demographic locations, which appears to be unrelated to the presence of the element. We envision that this discovery may contribute towards future understanding of the possible role of hairpin elements in Ptr.
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