Pleurotus ostreatus is a white-rot fungus that can degrade lignin in a preferential manner using a variety of extracellular enzymes, including manganese and versatile peroxidases (encoded by the vp1-3 and mnp1-6 genes, respectively). This fungus also secretes a family of structurally related small secreted proteins (SSPs) encoded by the ssp1-6 genes. Using RNA sequencing (RNA-seq), we determined that ssp4 and ssp6 are the predominant members of this gene family that were expressed by P. ostreatus during the first three weeks of growth on wheat straw. Downregulation of ssp4 in a strain harboring an ssp RNAi construct (KDssp1) was then confirmed, which, along with an increase in ssp6 transcript levels, coincided with reduced lignin degradation and the downregulation of vp2 and mnp1. In contrast, we observed an increase in the expression of genes related to pectin and side-chain hemicellulose degradation, which was accompanied by an increase in extracellular pectin-degrading capacity. Genome-wide comparisons between the KDssp1 and the wild-type strains demonstrated that ssp silencing conferred accumulated changes in gene expression at the advanced cultivation stages in an adaptive rather than an inductive mode of transcriptional response. Based on co-expression networking, crucial gene modules were identified and linked to the ssp knockdown genotype at different cultivation times. Based on these data, as well as previous studies, we propose that P. ostreatus SSPs have potential roles in modulating the lignocellulolytic and pectinolytic systems, as well as a variety of fundamental biological processes related to fungal growth and development.
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- plant biomass degradation
- small secreted protein
- white rot fungus