Unveiling the function and regulation control of the DUF3129 family proteins in fungal infection of hosts

Wei Huang, Song Hong, Guirong Tang, Yuzhen Lu, Chengshu Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Many prokaryotic and eukaryotic proteins contain domains of unknown function (DUFs). A DUF3129 family of proteins is widely encoded in the genomes of fungal pathogens. A few studies in plant and insect pathogens indicated that the DUF3129 genes are required for fungal penetration of host cuticles with an unclear mechanism. We found that a varied number of DUF3129 proteins is present in different fungal species and the proteins are evolutionarily diverged from each other at the inter- and intra-specific levels. By using the insect pathogenic fungus Metarhizium robertsii as a model, we performed experiments and found that the seven DUF3129 proteins encoded by this fungus are localized to cellular lipid droplets (LDs). Individual deletion of these genes did not affect fungal formation of the infection structure appressoria and the accumulation of LDs in fungal conidia. When compared with the wild-type (WT) strain, insect bioassays revealed that the virulence of most null mutants were significantly impaired during topical infection but not during injection of insects. Carbon starvation and the subsequent Western blot analysis indicated that the LD-specific perilipin protein was completely degraded in the WT cells whereas varied levels of perilipin could be detected in the mutant cells, which signified that depletion of LD content was delayed in mutant cells, and DUF3129 proteins are therefore involved in LD degradation. We also provided biochemical evidence that these DUF3129 genes are transcriptionally regulated by a yeast Ste12-like transcription factor. The findings of this study not only unveil the function of DUF3129 proteins but also better understand the diverse mechanism of fungus-host interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20180321
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1767
StatePublished - Mar 4 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Appressorium
  • Cuticle penetration
  • DUF3129
  • Fungal pathogens
  • Lipid droplets
  • Virulence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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