A gene encoding a trypsin protease was isolated from a tomato isolate of Verticillium dahliae. The gene, designated VTP1, contains two introns and is predicted to encode a protein of 256 amino acids. The gene is present in V. dahliae isolates from different host plants and in V. albo-atrum; weakly hybridizing sequences are present in V. tricorpus. VTP1 cDNA sequences were identified in a sequence tag analysis of genes expressed under growth conditions that promote microsclerotia development. Replacement of the gene, by Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated transformation (ATMT), with a mutant allele construct did not noticeably alter either pathogenicity or growth in culture. Searches of expressed sequence tag databases showed that, in addition to the VTP1 gene, V. dahliae contains two genes encoding subtilisin-like proteases similar to those produced by pathogenic Aspergillus spp. This is the first description of the application of ATMT to the molecular analysis of phytopathogenic Verticillium spp.
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