The MAPK kinase BcMkk1 suppresses oxalic acid biosynthesis via impeding phosphorylation of BcRim15 by BcSch9 in <i>Botrytis cinerea</i>

<div><p>The mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cassette of the cell wall integrity (CWI) pathway is primarily responsible for orchestrating changes of cell wall. However, functions of this cassette in other cellular processes are not well understood. Here, we found that the <i>Botrytis cinerea</i> mutant of MAPK kinase (BcMkk1) displays more serious defects in mycelial growth, conidiation, responses to cell wall and oxidative stresses, but possesses less reduced virulence than the mutants of its upstream (BcBck1) and downstream (BcBmp3) kinases. Interestingly, BcMkk1, but not BcBck1 and BcBmp3, negatively regulates production of oxalic acid (OA) and activity of extracellular hydrolases (EHs) that are proposed to be virulence factors of <i>B</i>. <i>cinerea</i>. Moreover, we obtained evidence that BcMkk1 negatively controls OA production via impeding phosphorylation of the Per-Arnt-Sim (PAS) kinase BcRim15 by the Ser/Thr kinase BcSch9. In addition, the fungal Pro40 homolog BcPro40 was found to interact simultaneously with three MAPKs, implying that BcPro40 is a scaffold protein of the CWI pathway in <i>B</i>. <i>cinerea</i>. Taken together, results of this study reveal that BcMkk1 negatively modulates virulence via suppressing OA biosynthesis in <i>B</i>. <i>cinerea</i>, which provides novel insight into conserved and species-specific functions of the MAPK kinase in fungi.</p></div>