The gene encodes a mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase, which has been cloned by complementation of the lytic phenotype associated with () mutants. In this work, the physiological role of this MAP kinase in the pathogenic fungus was characterized and a role for in the biogenesis of the cell wall suggested based on the following criteria. First, Δ/Δ strains displayed alterations in their cell surfaces under specific conditions as evidenced by scanning electron microscopy. Second, an increase in specific cell wall epitopes (-glycosylated mannoprotein) was shown by confocal microscopy in Δ/Δ mutants. Third, the sensitivity to antifungals which inhibit (1,3)-β-glucan and chitin synthesis was increased in these mutants. In addition, evidence for a role for the gene in morphological transitions in is presented based on the impairment of pseudohyphal formation of Δ/Δ strains on Spider medium and on the effect of its overexpression on colony morphology on SLADH medium. Using the two-hybrid system, it was also demonstrated that is able to interact specifically with Mkk1p and Mkk2p, the MAP-kinase kinases of the -mediated route of , and to activate transcription in when bound to a DNA-binding element. These results suggest a role for this MAP kinase in the construction of the cell wall of and indicate its potential relevance for the development of novel antifungals.


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