bZIP transcription factors in the oomycete phytophthora infestans with novel DNA-binding domains are involved in defense against oxidative stress.Eukaryot Cell. 2013 Oct; 12(10):1403-12.EC
Transcription factors of the basic leucine zipper (bZIP) family control development and stress responses in eukaryotes. To date, only one bZIP has been described in any oomycete; oomycetes are members of the stramenopile kingdom. In this study, we describe the identification of 38 bZIPs from the Phytophthora infestans genome. Half contain novel substitutions in the DNA-binding domain at a site that in other eukaryotes is reported to always be Asn. Interspecific comparisons indicated that the novel substitutions (usually Cys, but also Val and Tyr) arose after oomycetes diverged from other stramenopiles. About two-thirds of P. infestans bZIPs show dynamic changes in mRNA levels during the life cycle, with many of the genes being upregulated in sporangia, zoospores, or germinated zoospore cysts. One bZIP with the novel Cys substitution was shown to reside in the nucleus throughout growth and development. Using stable gene silencing, the functions of eight bZIPs with the Cys substitution were tested. All but one were found to play roles in protecting P. infestans from hydrogen peroxide-induced injury, and it is proposed that the novel Cys substitution serves as a redox sensor. A ninth bZIP lacking the novel Asn-to-Cys substitution, but having Cys nearby, was also shown through silencing to contribute to defense against peroxide. Little effect on asexual development, plant pathogenesis, or resistance to osmotic stress was observed in transformants silenced for any of the nine bZIPs.