Identifying fundamental mechanisms underlying apical branching morphogenesis in a model fungus Aspergillus nidulans.

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Fatemiyan, Narges
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Aspergillus nidulans is a filamentous fungus that for over 60 years has served as a robust model for studies of gene regulation and cell biology in complex eukaryotes. The most conspicuous feature of this species is the formation of hyphal branches through either lateral or apical branching to enable efficient colonization of its niche. Hyphal branching in filamentous fungi is regulated through a wide range of signaling pathways including extracellular and intracellular mechanisms. Notably, the role of protein kinases (PKs) in controlling apical branching morphogenesis remains an open question. Here, I have identified presumptive signaling pathways involved in hyphal branching by performing a bioinformatics screen for A. nidulans homologues of the human genes involved in neuronal migration, morphogenesis and branching (Chapter 2). I then employed two different assays to systematically investigate the roles of 100 PKs in apical branching (Chapters 2 and 3). My approach includes use of a quantitative microscopy assay (QMA) coupled with statistical analysis, which enabled me to identify PKs involved in regulation of apical branching morphogenesis in A. nidulans. Identifying PKs involved in mediating apical branching will encourage and support further investigations to characterize the main regulatory pathways implicated in branching morphogenesis in filamentous fungi.
Apical branching, Protein kinases, Aspergillus nidulans