A phylogenomic approach to reconstructing the diversification of serine proteases in fungi


R. J. St. Leger. 4112 Plant Science Building, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, 20742-4454, USA.
Tel.: 301 405 5402; fax: 301 314 9290; e-mail: rl106@umail.umd.edu


Using a phylogenomic approach with 10 fungi of very different virulence and habitat, we determined that there was substantial diversification of subtilase-type proteases early in ascomycete history (with subsequent loss in many lineages) but with no comparable diversification of trypsins. Patterns of intron loss and the degree of divergence between paralogues demonstrated that the proliferation of proteinase K subtilases and subtilisin type subtilases seen in pathogenic ascomycetes (Metarhizium anisopliae, Magnaporthe grisea, Fusarium graminearum) occurred after the basidiomycete/ascomycete split but predated radiation of ascomycete lineages. This suggests that the early ascomycetes had a lifestyle that selected for multiple proteases, whereas the current disparity in gene numbers between ascomycete lineages results from retention of genes in at least some pathogens that have been lost in other lineages (yeasts, Aspergillus nidulans, Neurospora crassa). A similar prevailing trend towards lineage specific gene loss of trypsins in saprophytes and some pathogens suggests that their phylogenetic breadth will have been much wider in early fungi than currently.