Flagellated spores play important roles in the infection of plants and animals by many eukaryotic microbes. The oomycete Phytophthora infestans, which causes potato blight, expresses two phosphagen kinases (PKs). These enzymes store energy in taurocyamine, and are hypothesized to resolve spatial and temporal imbalances between rates of ATP creation and use in zoospores. A dimeric PK is found at low levels in vegetative mycelia, but high levels in ungerminated sporangia and zoospores. In contrast, a monomeric PK protein is at similar levels in all tissues, although is transcribed primarily in mycelia. Subcellular localization studies indicate that the monomeric PK is mitochondrial. In contrast, the dimeric PK is cytoplasmic in mycelia and sporangia but is retargeted to flagellar axonemes during zoosporogenesis. This supports a model in which PKs shuttle energy from mitochondria to and through flagella. Metabolite analysis indicates that deployment of the flagellar PK is coordinated with a large increase in taurocyamine, synthesized by sporulation-induced enzymes that were lost during the evolution of zoospore-lacking oomycetes. Thus, PK function is enabled by coordination of the transcriptional, metabolic and protein targeting machinery during the life cycle. Since plants lack PKs, the enzymes may be useful targets for inhibitors of oomycete plant pathogens.© 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Journal: Molecular microbiology