Aspergillus nidulans wetA activates spore-specific gene expression.


<jats:p>The Aspergillus nidulans wetA gene is required for synthesis of cell wall layers that make asexual spores (conidia) impermeable. In wetA mutant strains, conidia take up water and autolyze rather than undergoing the final stages of maturation. wetA is activated during conidiogenesis by sequential expression of the brlA and abaA regulatory genes. To determine whether wetA regulates expression of other sporulation-specific genes, its coding region was fused to a nutritionally regulated promoter that permits gene activation in vegetative cells (hyphae) under conditions that suppress conidiation. Expression of wetA in hyphae inhibited growth and caused excessive branching. It did not lead to activation of brlA or abaA but did cause accumulation of transcripts from genes that are normally expressed specifically during the late stages of conidiation and whose mRNAs are stored in mature spores. Thus, wetA directly or indirectly regulates expression of some spore-specific genes. At least one gene (wA), whose mRNA does not occur in spores but rather accumulates in the sporogenous phialide cells, was activated by wetA, suggesting that wetA may have a regulatory function in these cells as well as in spores. We propose that wetA is responsible for activating a set of genes whose products make up the final two conidial wall layers or direct their assembly and through this activity is responsible for acquisition of spore dormancy.</jats:p>


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