Fungal genetics and biology : FG & B

A novel family of cyclic oligopeptides derived from ribosomal peptide synthesis of an in planta-induced gene, gigA, in Epichloë endophytes of grasses.

PMID 26519220


Fungal endophytes belonging to the genus Epichloë form associations with temperate grasses belonging to the sub-family Poöideae that range from mutualistic through to pathogenic. We previously identified a novel endophyte gene (designated gigA for grass induced gene) that is one of the most abundantly expressed fungal transcripts in endophyte-infected grasses and which is distributed and highly expressed in a wide range of Epichloë grass associations. Molecular and biochemical analyses indicate that gigA encodes a small secreted protein containing an imperfect 27 amino acid repeat that includes a kexin protease cleavage site. Kexin processing of GigA liberates within the plant multiple related products, named here as epichloëcyclins, which we have demonstrated by MS/MS to be cyclic peptidic in nature. Gene deletion of gigA leads to the elimination of all epichloëcyclins with no conspicuous phenotypic impact on the host grass, suggesting a possible bioactive role. This is a further example of a ribosomal peptide synthetic (RiPS) pathway operating within the Ascomycetes, and is the first description of such a pathway from a mutualistic symbiotic fungus from this Phylum.