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Cdc14 protein phosphatases are well known for regulating the eukaryotic cell cycle, particularly during mitosis. Here we reveal a distinctly new role for Cdc14 based on studies of the microbial eukaryote Phytophthora infestans, the Irish potato famine agent. While Cdc14 is transcribed constitutively in yeast and animal cells, the P. infestans ortholog is expressed exclusively in spore stages of the life cycle and not in vegetative hyphae where the bulk of mitosis takes place. PiCdc14 expression is first detected in nuclei at sporulation, and during zoospore formation the protein accumulates at the basal body, which is the site from which flagella develop. The association of PiCdc14 with basal bodies was supported by co-localization studies with the DIP13 basal body protein and flagellar β-tubulin, and by demonstrating the enrichment of PiCdc14 in purified flagella-basal body complexes. Overexpressing PiCdc14 did not cause defects in growth or mitosis in hyphae, but interfered with cytoplasmic partitioning during zoosporogenesis. This cytokinetic defect might relate to its ability to bind microtubules, which was shown using an in vitro cosedimentation assay. The use of gene silencing to reveal the precise function of PiCdc14 in flagella is not possible since we showed previously that silencing prevents the formation of the precursor stage, sporangia. Nevertheless, the association of Cdc14 with flagella and basal bodies is consistent with their phylogenetic distribution in eukaryotes, as species that lack the ability to produce flagella generally also lack Cdc14. An ancestral role of Cdc14 in the flagellar stage of eukaryotes is thereby proposed.


Audrey M V Ah-Fong, Howard S Judelson. New role for Cdc14 phosphatase: localization to basal bodies in the oomycete phytophthora and its evolutionary coinheritance with eukaryotic flagella. PloS one. 2011;6(2):e16725

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PMID: 21340037

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