Insight into the genome of Aspergillus fumigatus: analysis of a 922 kb region encompassing the nitrate assimilation gene cluster.
ABSTRACT Aspergillus fumigatus is the most ubiquitous opportunistic filamentous fungal pathogen of human. As an initial step toward sequencing the entire genome of A. fumigatus, which is estimated to be approximately 30 Mb in size, we have sequenced a 922 kb region, contained within 16 overlapping bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) clones. Fifty-four percent of the DNA is predicted to be coding with 341 putative protein coding genes. Functional classification of the proteins showed the presence of a higher proportion of enzymes and membrane transporters when compared to those of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In addition to the nitrate assimilation gene cluster, the quinate utilisation gene cluster is also present on this 922 kb genomic sequence. We observed large scale synteny between A. fumigatus and Aspergillus nidulans by comparing this sequence to the A. nidulans genetic map of linkage group VIII.
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ABSTRACT: Genomic analyses of fungal genome structure have revealed the presence of physically-linked groups of genes, termed gene clusters, where collective functionality of encoded gene products serves a common biosynthetic purpose. In multiple fungal pathogens of humans and plants gene clusters have been shown to encode pathways for biosynthesis of secondary metabolites including metabolites required for pathogenicity. In the major mould pathogen of humans Aspergillus fumigatus, multiple clusters of co-ordinately upregulated genes were identified as having heightened transcript abundances, relative to laboratory cultured equivalents, during the early stages of murine infection. The aim of this study was to develop and optimise a methodology for manipulation of gene cluster architecture, thereby providing the means to assess their relevance to fungal pathogenicity. To this end we adapted a recombineering methodology which exploits lambda phage-mediated recombination of DNA in bacteria, for the generation of gene cluster deletion cassettes. By exploiting a pre-existing bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) library of A. fumigatus genomic clones we were able to implement single or multiple intra-cluster gene replacement events at both subtelomeric and telomere distal chromosomal locations, in both wild type and highly recombinogenic A. fumigatus isolates. We then applied the methodology to address the boundaries of a gene cluster producing a nematocidal secondary metabolite, pseurotin A, and to address the role of this secondary metabolite in insect and mammalian responses to A. fumigatus challenge.PLoS ONE 11/2014; 9(11):e111875. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0111875 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Conidiogenesis is the primary process for asexual reproduction in filamentous fungi. As the conidia resulting from the conidiogenesis process are primarily disseminated via air currents and/or water, an outstanding question has been how fungi recognize aerial environments suitable for conidial development. In this study, we documented the somewhat complex development of the conidia-bearing structures, termed conidiophores, from several Aspergillus species in a subsurface (gel-phase) layer of solid media. A subset of the isolates studied was able to develop conidiophores in a gel-phase environment, but exposure to the aeriform environment was required for the terminal developmental transition from phialide cells to conidia. The remaining Aspergilli could not initiate the conidiogenesis process until they were exposed to the aeriform environment. Our observations of conidiophore development in high or low oxygen conditions in both aeriform and gel-phase environments revealed that oxygen and the aeriform state are positive environmental factors for inducing conidiogenesis in most of the aspergilli tested in this study. Transcriptional analysis using A. fumigatus strain AF293 confined to either the aeriform or gel-phase environments revealed that expression of a key regulatory gene for conidiophore development (AfubrlA) is facilitated by oxygen while expression of another regulatory gene controlling conidia formation from phialides (AfuabaA) was repressed regardless of oxygen levels in the gel-embedded environment. Furthermore, by comparing the developmental behavior of conidiation-defective mutants lacking genes controlling various regulatory checkpoints throughout the conidiogenesis pathway, we propose that this aerial response by the fungus requires both oxygen and the phase transition (solid to aeriform), with these environmental signals integrating into the upstream regulatory pathway and central regulatory pathway of conidiogenesis, respectively. Our findings provide not only novel insight into how fungi respond to an aerial environment to trigger development for airborne conidia production but also the relationship between environmental factors and conidiogenesis regulation in aspergilli.PLoS ONE 09/2013; 8(9):e74805. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0074805 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: In yeast cells such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae, expression of ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter proteins has been found to be increased and correlates with a concomitant elevation in azole drug resistance. Here, we investigate the roles of two Aspergillus fumigatus proteins that share high sequence similarity with S. cerevisiae Pdr5, an ABC transporter protein that is commonly overproduced in azole resistant isolates in this yeast. The two A. fumigatus genes encoding the ABC transporters sharing the highest sequence similarity to Sc Pdr5 are called abcA and abcB here. We constructed deletion alleles of these two different ABC transporter-encoding genes in three different strains of A. fumigatus. Loss of abcB invariably elicited increased azole susceptibility while abcA disruption alleles had variable phenotype. Specific antibodies were raised to both abcA and abcB proteins. These antisera allowed detection of abcB in wild-type cells while abcA could only be visualized when overproduced from the hspA promoter in A. fumigatus. Overproduction of abcA also exhibited increased azole resistance. Green fluorescent protein fusions were used to provide evidence that both abcA and abcB are localized to the plasma membrane in A. fumigatus. Promoter fusions to firefly luciferase suggested that expression of both ABC transporter-encoding genes are inducible by azole challenge. Virulence assays implicated abcB as a possible factor required for normal pathogenesis. This work provides important new insights into the physiological roles of ABC transporters in this major fungal pathogen.Eukaryotic Cell 10/2013; DOI:10.1128/EC.00171-13 · 3.18 Impact Factor