To cause rice blast disease, the fungal pathogen Magnaporthe oryzae develops a specialized infection structure called an appressorium. This dome-shaped, melanin-pigmented cell generates enormous turgor and applies physical force to rupture the rice leaf cuticle using a rigid penetration peg. Appressorium-mediated infection requires septin-dependent reorientation of the F-actin cytoskeleton at the base of the infection cell, which organizes polarity determinants necessary for plant cell invasion. Here, we show that plant infection by M. oryzae requires two independent S-phase cell-cycle checkpoints. Initial formation of appressoria on the rice leaf surface requires an S-phase checkpoint that acts through the DNA damage response (DDR) pathway, involving the Cds1 kinase. By contrast, appressorium repolarization involves a novel, DDR-independent S-phase checkpoint, triggered by appressorium turgor generation and melanization. This second checkpoint specifically regulates septin- dependent, NADPH oxidase-regulated F-actin dynamics to organize the appressorium pore and facilitate entry of the fungus into host tissue.
- cell cycle