Molecular Genetics and Genomics

, Volume 276, Issue 3, pp 211–229 | Cite as

Pathocycles: Ustilago maydis as a model to study the relationships between cell cycle and virulence in pathogenic fungi

  • José Pérez-MartínEmail author
  • Sonia Castillo-Lluva
  • Cecilia Sgarlata
  • Ignacio Flor-Parra
  • Natalia Mielnichuk
  • Joaquín Torreblanca
  • Natalia Carbó


Activation of virulence in pathogenic fungi often involves differentiation processes that need the reset of the cell cycle and induction of a new morphogenetic program. Therefore, the fungal capability to modify its cell cycle constitutes an important determinant in carrying out a successful infection. The dimorphic fungus Ustilago maydis is the causative agent of corn smut disease and has lately become a highly attractive model in addressing fundamental questions about development in pathogenic fungi. The different morphological and genetic changes of U. maydis cells during the pathogenic process advocate an accurate control of the cell cycle in these transitions. This is why this model pathogen deserves attention as a powerful tool in analyzing the relationships between cell cycle, morphogenesis, and pathogenicity. The aim of this review is to summarize recent advances in the unveiling of cell cycle regulation in U. maydis. We also discuss the connection between cell cycle and virulence and how cell cycle control is an important downstream target in the fungus-plant interaction.


Fission Yeast Polar Growth Mitogen Activate Protein Kinase Cascade Cdc25 Phosphatase Cell Size Control 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This review summarizes the work performed in the laboratory of JPM since 2000. Along these years, the continuous and generous support of Regine Kahmann by providing technical help, material, and discussion has been crucial and determinant for the development of the topic. To enter into Ustilago maydis field represented for JPM an acceptance with open arms and friendship by the entire Ustilago community. JPM want to thank members of Max-Planck-Institut für Terrestrische Mikrobiologie at Marburg for hospitality and the availability to discuss any topic related to Ustilago. JPM really appreciate the friendship of Gero Steinberg, who helped me enter into the cell biology area; Michel Feldbrügge, who provided me with vectors and lots of ideas; Jöerg Kämper, for a lot of productive discussions and Andreas Brachmann, for smashing my head with questions. JPM also acknowledges the gift of Fig. 5 and critical reading of the manuscript from Gero Steinberg and the help with the English language from my wife, Loreto Carmona. The careful editing labor of one of the anonymous reviewers is also appreciated. The work of JPM is supported by the MCyT (BIO2005-02998).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • José Pérez-Martín
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sonia Castillo-Lluva
    • 1
  • Cecilia Sgarlata
    • 1
  • Ignacio Flor-Parra
    • 1
  • Natalia Mielnichuk
    • 1
  • Joaquín Torreblanca
    • 1
  • Natalia Carbó
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Biotecnología Microbiana, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología-CSICCampus de Cantoblanco-UAMMadridSpain

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