Lessons from the Genome Sequence of Neurospora crassa: Tracing the Path from Genomic Blueprint to Multicellular Organism

Katharine A. Borkovich
Lisa A. Alex
Oded Yarden
Michael Freitag


We present an analysis of over 1,100 of the approximately 10,000 predicted proteins encoded by the genome sequence of the filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa. Seven major areas of Neurospora genomics and biology are covered. First, the basic features of the genome, including the automated assembly, gene calls, and global gene analyses are summarized. The second section covers components of the centromere and kinetochore complexes, chromatin assembly and modification, and transcription and translation initiation factors. The third area discusses genome defense mechanisms, including repeat induced point mutation, quelling and meiotic silencing, and DNA repair and recombination. In the fourth section, topics relevant to metabolism and transport include extracellular digestion; membrane transporters; aspects of carbon, sulfur, nitrogen, and lipid metabolism; the mitochondrion and energy metabolism; the proteasome; and protein glycosylation, secretion, and endocytosis. Environmental sensing is the focus of the fifth section with a treatment of two-component systems; GTP-binding proteins; mitogen-activated protein, p21-activated, and germinal center kinases; calcium signaling; protein phosphatases; photobiology; circadian rhythms; and heat shock and stress responses. The sixth area of analysis is growth and development; it encompasses cell wall synthesis, proteins important for hyphal polarity, cytoskeletal components, the cyclin/cyclin-dependent kinase machinery, macroconidiation, meiosis, and the sexual cycle. The seventh section covers topics relevant to animal and plant pathogenesis and human disease. The results demonstrate that a large proportion of Neurospora genes do not have homologues in the yeasts Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Schizosaccharomyces pombe. The group of unshared genes includes potential new targets for antifungals as well as loci implicated in human and plant physiology and disease.