Mike Birch

The University of Manchester, Manchester, England, United Kingdom

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Publications (8)22.53 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Azoles are currently the mainstay of antifungal treatment both in agricultural and in clinical settings. Although the target site of azole action is well studied, the basis of azole resistance and the ultimate mode of action of the drug in fungi are poorly understood. To gain a deeper insight into these aspects of azole action, restriction-mediated plasmid integration (REMI) was used to create azole sensitive and resistant strains of the clinically important fungus Aspergillus fumigatus. Four azole sensitive insertions and four azole-resistant insertions were characterized. Three phenotypes could be re-created in wild-type AF210 by reintegration of rescued plasmid and a further four could be confirmed by complementation of the mutant phenotype with a copy of the wild-type gene predicted to be disrupted by the original insertional event. Six insertions were in genes not previously associated with azole sensitivity or resistance. Two insertions occur in transporter genes that may affect drug efflux, whereas others may affect transcriptional regulation of sterol biosynthesis genes and NADH metabolism in the mitochondrion. Two insertions are in genes of unknown function.
    FEMS Microbiology Letters 04/2012; 332(1):10-9. · 2.05 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Dihydroxyacid dehydratase (DHAD) is a key enzyme in the branched-chain amino acid biosynthetic pathway that exists in a variety of organisms, including fungi, plants and bacteria, but not humans. In this study we identified four putative DHAD genes from the filamentous fungus Aspergillus fumigatus by homology to Saccharomyces cerevisiae ILV3. Two of these genes, AFUA_2G14210 and AFUA_1G03550, initially designated AfIlv3A and AfIlv3B for this study, clustered in the same group as S. cerevisiae ILV3 following phylogenetic analysis. To investigate the functions of these genes, AfIlv3A and AfIlv3B were knocked out in A. fumigatus. Deletion of AfIlv3B gave no apparent phenotype whereas the Δilv3A strain required supplementation with isoleucine and valine for growth. Thus, AfIlv3A is required for branched-chain amino acid synthesis in A. fumigatus. A recombinant AfIlv3A protein derived from AFUA_2G14210 was shown to have DHAD activity in an in vitro assay, confirming that AfIlv3A is a DHAD. In addition we show that mutants lacking AfIlv3A and ilv3B exhibit reduced levels of virulence in murine infection models, emphasising the importance of branched-chain amino acid biosynthesis in fungal infections, and hence the potential of targeting this pathway with antifungal agents. Here we propose that AfIlv3A/AFUA_2G2410 be named ilvC.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(9):e43559. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The mitochondrial phosphopantetheinyl transferase gene pptB of the opportunistic pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus has been identified and characterised. Unlike pptA, which is required for lysine biosynthesis, secondary metabolism, and iron assimilation, pptB is essential for viability. PptB is located in the mitochondria. In vitro expression of pptA and pptB has shown that PptB is specific for the mitochondrial acyl carrier protein AcpA.
    Fungal Genetics and Biology 12/2010; 48(4):456-64. · 3.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Genes that are essential for viability represent potential targets for the development of anti-infective agents. However, relatively few have been determined in the filamentous fungal pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus. A novel solution employing parasexual genetics coupled with transposon mutagenesis using the Fusarium oxysporum transposon impala had previously enabled the identification of 20 essential genes from A. fumigatus; however, further use of this system required a better understanding of the mode of action of the transposon itself. Examination of a range of conditions indicated that impala is activated by prolonged exposure to low temperatures. This newly identified property was then harnessed to identify 96 loci that are critical for viability in A. fumigatus, including genes required for RNA metabolism, organelle organization, protein transport, ribosome biogenesis, and transcription, as well as a number of noncoding RNAs. A number of these genes represent potential targets for much-needed novel antifungal drugs.
    Eukaryotic Cell 03/2010; 9(3):438-48. · 3.59 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In recent years the filamentous fungus Aspergillus fumigatus has become a significant cause of infection in man and as such has become the focus of much study. It is thought to be the leading mould pathogen in leukaemia and transplant patients and is responsible for mortality in a large number of individuals with immunological disorders. In an attempt to develop molecular mutagenesis tools for assessment of this organism, the genome of A. fumigatus was analysed to identify possible functional transposable elements. An apparently intact Fot1/Pogo type transposon with 65% identity to the active Tan1 element of Aspergillus niger was identified and designated Aft1. Aft1 is a 1.9kb element present in multiple (>20) highly conserved copies. It encodes a 332 amino acid transposase which contains all the functional motifs required for transposition. In addition, the transposase was expressed in cultures grown at 37 degrees C in all three strains assessed and excision analysis suggests Aft1 may be active and of use in transposon tagging experiments. Southern hybridisation patterns indicate that Aft1 is widely distributed amongst clinical isolates of A. fumigatus with considerable variation in genomic localisation. A comprehensive analysis of the genomic localisation of Aft1 in the sequenced strain AF293 show that one insertion is 30 bases upstream of a predicted gene encoding a G-protein coupled receptor. Expression analysis indicates that this gene has been inactivated by the insertion.
    Fungal Genetics and Biology 02/2008; 45(2):117-26. · 3.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Fungi secrete extracellular enzymes to enable them to harvest nutrients from the environment. In the case of pathogenic fungi these enzymes can also be pathogenesis factors. Here we report the identification in fungi of a complex family of extracellular phospholipase C (PLC) enzymes, homologous to the Pseudomonas aeruginosa PLCH_PSEAE. Database searches and phylogenetic analysis showed that the PLCs clustered into two groups with different evolutionary histories. One group, subdivided into PLC-A, -B, -C and -D, was found only in aspergilli and Neosartorya fischeri. Each species only ever showed three of the four PLCs except N. fischeri which had all four PLCs plus duplicate PLC-A, -B and -C genes. Modelling studies indicated that these PLCs had mechanistic similarities to phosphoesterases and aryl sulphatases, but that they probably did not differ in substrate specificity. The second group, PLC-E, was seen in a wider range of fungi including some species of aspergilli and was always found in a head-to-head arrangement with a copper oxidase, similar to the laccases. The PLC genes appear to have arisen from separate gene transfer events from bacteria or lower eukaryotes. Thus, aspergilli have acquired PLCs twice in the course of evolution.
    Mycological Research 11/2006; 110(Pt 10):1140-51. · 2.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The ADAMs are a family of integral membrane proteases involved in shedding and fusion events in animal tissues. Here, we report the identification of two ADAMs, ADM-A and ADM-B, in the pathogenic fungus Aspergillus fumigatus. The domain structure of metazoan ADAMs was seen in ADM-A and -B, although with some differences. ADAMs were identified in other filamentous fungi and phylogenetic analysis indicated that the fungal ADAMs were monophyletic and most closely related to metazoan ADAM 10 and 17. Recombinant ADM-B protease specifically cleaved casein and albumin while recombinant propeptide+protease was inactive. A sheddase function is therefore proposed for fungal ADAMs.
    FEMS Microbiology Letters 08/2005; 248(1):23-30. · 2.05 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Extracellular phospholipase production by environmental and clinical isolates of Aspergillus fumigatus collected from several centres world-wide were compared. All isolates produced extracellular phospholipases which included phospholipase C and a phospholipid acyl hydrolase (phospholipase A and/or phospholipase B) activity. Clinical isolates of A. fumigatus produced the largest zone sizes in a diffusion assay and clinical isolates produced more extracellular phospholipase C than environmental isolates. However, environmental isolates of A. fumigatus showed increased acyl hydrolase activity compared to clinical isolates of A. fumigatus. This study suggests that extracellular phospholipase C activity, but not extracellular acyl hydrolase activity may be important in the pathogenicity of A. fumigatus.
    Medical Mycology 03/2004; 42(1):81-6. · 1.98 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

66 Citations
22.53 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2004–2010
    • The University of Manchester
      • • School of Translational Medicine
      • • Manchester Medical School
      Manchester, England, United Kingdom