Survival competition between plants and filamentous fungi mediated by translation inhibitors

Februaryry 28, 2023

Discovery of a new bacterium that passes through plant antimicrobial compounds and infect plants

An international collaborative research group led by RIKEN Cluster for Pioneering Research, RIKEN CSRS, and RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research has discovered a new filamentous fungus (mold) that passes through plant defenses with antimicrobial compounds, and they also elucidated its mechanism.

A compound called rocaglate, which is produced by a plant called Aglaia (Japanese name: Juran), has the function of inhibiting intracellular translation, and therefore is attracting attention as an antibacterial agent, anticancer drug, and therapeutic drug candidate for COVID-19 infection. Aglaia has been considered to use rocaglates to protect themselves against fungal infections.
The international collaborative research group has found that a newly discovered filamentous fungus (Ophiocordyceps sp. BRM1) has the ability to bypass rocaglate defenses and infect Aglaia. It was found that the translation initiation factor "eIF4A" in this filamentous fungus acquires rocaglate resistance by mutating so that it does not bind to rocaglates. While the mechanism of decomposing antimicrobial compounds is well known as the infection strategy of filamentous fungi, this filamentous fungus had a different and unique mechanism.

The results of this research are expected to contribute to the understanding of the drug resistance mechanism of filamentous fungi that cause great crop damage and to the development of pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals utilizing antimicrobial compounds.

Original article
eLife doi:10.7554/eLife.81302
M. Chen, N. Kumakura, H. Saito, R. Muller, M. Nishimoto, M. Mito, P. Gan, N. T. Ingolia, K. Shirasu, T. Ito, Y. Shichino, S. Iwasaki,
"A parasitic fungus employs mutated eIF4A to survive on rocaglate-synthesizing Aglaia plants".
Ken Shirasu; Group Director
Naoyoshi Kumakura; Research Scientist
Plant Immunity Research Group