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Network of nutrient-sensing pathways and a conserved kinase cascade integrate osmolarity and carbon sensing in Neurospora crassa

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Identifying nutrients available in the environment and utilizing them in the most efficient manner is a challenge common to all organisms. The model filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa is capable of utilizing a variety of carbohydrates, from simple sugars to the complex carbohydrates found in plant cell walls. The zinc binuclear cluster transcription factor CLR-1 is necessary for utilization of cellulose, a major, recalcitrant component of the plant cell wall; however, expression of clr-1 in the absence of an inducer is not sufficient to induce cellulase gene expression. We performed a screen for unidentified actors in the cellulose-response pathway and identified a gene encoding a hypothetical protein (clr-3) that is required for repression of CLR-1 activity in the absence of an inducer. Using clr-3 mutants, we implicated the hyperosmotic-response pathway in the tunable regulation of glycosyl hydrolase production in response to changes in osmolarity. The role of the hyperosmotic-response pathway in nutrient sensing may indicate that cells use osmolarity as a proxy for the presence of free sugar in their environment. These signaling pathways form a nutrient-sensing network that allows Ncrassa cells to tightly regulate gene expression in response to environmental conditions.

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This item is under embargo until December 31, 2999.