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Kwon, Seomun; Rupp, Oliver; Brachmann, Andreas; Blum, Christopher Frederik; Kraege, Anton; Goesmann, Alexander and Feldbrügge, Michael (2021): mRNA Inventory of Extracellular Vesicles from Ustilago maydis. In: Journal of Fungi, Vol. 7, No. 7, 562

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Extracellular vesicles (EVs) can transfer diverse RNA cargo for intercellular communication. EV-associated RNAs have been found in diverse fungi and were proposed to be relevant for pathogenesis in animal hosts. In plant-pathogen interactions, small RNAs are exchanged in a cross-kingdom RNAi warfare and EVs were considered to be a delivery mechanism. To extend the search for EV-associated molecules involved in plant-pathogen communication, we have characterised the repertoire of EV-associated mRNAs secreted by the maize smut pathogen, Ustilago maydis. For this initial survey, we examined EV-enriched fractions from axenic filamentous cultures that mimic infectious hyphae. EV-associated RNAs were resistant to degradation by RNases and the presence of intact mRNAs was evident. The set of mRNAs enriched inside EVs relative to the fungal cells are functionally distinct from those that are depleted from EVs. mRNAs encoding metabolic enzymes are particularly enriched. Intriguingly, mRNAs of some known effectors and other proteins linked to virulence were also found in EVs. Furthermore, several mRNAs enriched in EVs are also upregulated during infection, suggesting that EV-associated mRNAs may participate in plant-pathogen interactions.

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