Identification and Characterization of a Class III Chitin Synthase Gene of Moniliophthora perniciosa, the Fungus That Causes Witches Broom Disease of Cacao

Chitin synthase (CHS) is a glucosyltransferase that converts UDP-N-acetylglucosamine into chitin, one of the main components of fungal cell wall. Class III chitin synthases act directly in the formation of the cell wall. They catalyze the conversion of the immediate precursor of chitin and are responsible for the majority of chitin synthesis in fungi. As such, they are highly specific molecular targets for drugs that can inhibit the growth and development of fungal pathogens. In this work, we have identified and characterized a chitin synthase gene of Moniliophthora perniciosa (Mopchs) by primer walking. The complete gene sequence is 3,443 bp, interrupted by 13 small introns, and comprises a cDNA with an ORF with 2,739 bp, whose terminal region was experimentally determined, encoding a protein with 913 aa that harbors all the motifs and domains typically found in class III chitin synthases. This is the first report on the characterization of a chitin synthase gene, its mature transcription product, and its putative protein in basidioma and secondary mycelium stages of M. perniciosa, a basidiomycotan fungus that causes witches’ broom disease of cacao.

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