|Scooped by Guogen Yang|
Podospora anserina, a coprophilous fungus, is used extensively as a model organism to address questions of sexual development and mating-type functions. Its mating-type locus contains three HMGB genes that encode transcription factors involved in fertilization and fruit-body development. We present the functional characterization of the remaining HMGB genes, which revealed that 11 of 12 HMGB genes were involved in sexual development. An analysis of the relationships between these genes uncovered a regulatory network governing the expression of mating-type genes. PaHMG5 is a key transcription factor that operates upstream of mating-type genes in this network. A homolog of PaHMG5 performs a similar function in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, which diverged from P. anserina 550 million years ago. The conservation of a regulatory circuit over such a prolonged timeframe is a striking exception to the general observation that sex developmental pathways are highly variable, even across closely related lineages. A module consisting of two HMGB transcription factors (Sry and Sox9) is a key regulator of sex determination in mammals. We propose that the module containing PaHMG5 and mating-type HMGB genes is the fungal counterpart of the mammalian module, revealing a commonality of sex regulation in animals and fungi.