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S3.3: Modulation of signaling and infrastructure during the biotrophic Ustilago maydis/maize interaction

Kai Heimel & James Kronstad

The Unfolded Protein Response (UPR) mediates ER homeostasis during the interaction between the biotrophic fungal pathogen Ustilago maydis and its host plant maize. UPR activity facilitates proper signal exchange between biotrophic fungi and their host plants as it provides an optimized intracellular cellular infrastructure for efficient delivery of fungal signaling molecules. In previous work, we have demonstrated that UPR-induced transcriptional changes are central for coordinating a regulatory network affecting fungal development, physiology and host dependent processes.

This doctoral research project will be carried out in collaboration with the Kronstad lab at the UBC and combine advanced genetic, proteomic and biochemical approaches. The project aims are to define and characterize components of the UPR regulated intracellular infrastructure critical for host plant adaptation and to address how post-translational modifications of central UPR components affect crosstalk between signaling networks and contribute to the biotrophic interaction.

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