[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In fungi, transcriptional activation of genes involved in NO3- assimilation requires the presence of an inducer (nitrate or nitrite) and low intracellular concentrations of the pathway products ammonium or glutamine. In Aspergillus nidulans, the two transcription factors NirA and AreA act synergistically to mediate nitrate/nitrite induction and nitrogen metabolite derepression, respectively. In all studied fungi and in plants, mutants lacking nitrate reductase (NR) activity express nitrate-metabolizing enzymes constitutively without the addition of inducer molecules. Based on their work in A. nidulans, Cove and Pateman proposed an "autoregulation control" model for the synthesis of nitrate metabolizing enzymes in which the functional nitrate reductase molecule would act as co-repressor in the absence and as co-inducer in the presence of nitrate. However, NR mutants could simply show "pseudo-constitutivity" due to induction by nitrate which accumulates over time in NR-deficient strains.. Here we examined this possibility using strains which lack flavohemoglobins (fhbs), and are thus unable to generate nitrate internally, in combination with nitrate transporter mutations (nrtA, nrtB) and a GFP-labelled NirA protein. Using different combinations of genotypes we demonstrate that nitrate transporters are functional also in NR null mutants and show that the constitutive phenotype of NR mutants is not due to nitrate accumulation from intracellular sources but depends on the activity of nitrate transporters. However, these transporters are not required for nitrate signalling because addition of external nitrate (10 mM) leads to standard induction of nitrate assimilatory genes in the nitrate transporter double mutants. We finally show that NR does not regulate NirA localization and activity, and thus the autoregulation model, in which NR would act as a co-repressor of NirA in the absence of nitrate, is unlikely to be correct. Results from this study instead suggest that transporter-mediated NO3- accumulation in NR deficient mutants, originating from traces of nitrate in the media, is responsible for the constitutive expression of NirA-regulated genes, and the associated phenotype is thus termed "pseudo-constitutive".
Fungal Genetics and Biology 02/2013; · 3.26 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Nitrate is a dominant form of inorganic nitrogen (N) in soils and can be efficiently assimilated by bacteria, fungi and plants. We studied here the transcriptome of the short-term nitrate response using assimilating and non-assimilating strains of the model ascomycete Aspergillus nidulans. Among the 72 genes positively responding to nitrate, only 18 genes carry binding sites for the pathway-specific activator NirA. Forty-five genes were repressed by nitrate metabolism. Because nirA(-) strains are N-starved at nitrate induction conditions, we also compared the nitrate transcriptome with N-deprived conditions and found a partial overlap of differentially regulated genes between these conditions. Nitric oxide (NO)-metabolizing flavohaemoglobins were found to be co-regulated with nitrate assimilatory genes. Subsequent molecular characterization revealed that the strongly inducible FhbA is required for full activity of nitrate and nitrite reductase enzymes. The co-regulation of NO-detoxifying and nitrate/nitrite assimilating systems may represent a conserved mechanism, which serves to neutralize nitrosative stress imposed by an external NO source in saprophytic and pathogenic fungi. Our analysis using membrane-permeable NO donors suggests that signalling for NirA activation only indirectly depends on the nitrate transporters NrtA (CrnA) and NrtB (CrnB).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fungal secondary metabolites are important bioactive compounds but the conditions leading to expression of most of the putative secondary metabolism (SM) genes predicted by fungal genomics are unknown. Here we describe a novel mechanism involved in SM-gene regulation based on the finding that, in Aspergillus nidulans, mutants lacking components involved in heterochromatin formation show de-repression of genes involved in biosynthesis of sterigmatocystin (ST), penicillin and terrequinone A. During the active growth phase, the silent ST gene cluster is marked by histone H3 lysine 9 trimethylation and contains high levels of the heterochromatin protein-1 (HepA). Upon growth arrest and activation of SM, HepA and trimethylated H3K9 levels decrease concomitantly with increasing levels of acetylated histone H3. SM-specific chromatin modifications are restricted to genes located inside the ST cluster, and constitutive heterochromatic marks persist at loci immediately outside the cluster. LaeA, a global activator of SM clusters in fungi, counteracts the establishment of heterochromatic marks. Thus, one level of regulation of the A. nidulans ST cluster employs epigenetic control by H3K9 methylation and HepA binding to establish a repressive chromatin structure and LaeA is involved in reversal of this heterochromatic signature inside the cluster, but not in that of flanking genes.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Proteins are subject to modification by reactive oxygen species (ROS), and oxidation of specific amino acid residues can impair their biological function, leading to an alteration in cellular homeostasis. Sulfur-containing amino acids as methionine are the most vulnerable to oxidation by ROS, resulting in the formation of methionine sulfoxide [Met(O)] residues. This modification can be repaired by methionine sulfoxide reductases (Msr). Two distinct classes of these enzymes, MsrA and MsrB, which selectively reduce the two methionine sulfoxide epimers, methionine-S-sulfoxide and methionine-R-sulfoxide, respectively, are found in virtually all organisms. Here, we describe the homologs of methionine sulfoxide reductases, msrA and msrB, in the filamentous fungus Aspergillus nidulans. Both single and double inactivation mutants were viable, but more sensitive to oxidative stress agents as hydrogen peroxide, paraquat, and ultraviolet light. These strains also accumulated more carbonylated proteins when exposed to hydrogen peroxide indicating that MsrA and MsrB are active players in the protection of the cellular proteins from oxidative stress damage.
Fungal Genetics and Biology 06/2009; 46(5):410-7. · 3.26 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In Aspergillus nidulans, proline can be used as a carbon and nitrogen source, and its metabolism requires the integration of three signals, including proline induction and nitrogen and carbon metabolite derepression. We have previously shown that the bidirectional promoter in the prnD-prnB intergenic region undergoes drastic chromatin rearrangements such that proline induction leads to the loss of positioned nucleosomes, whereas simultaneous carbon and nitrogen metabolite repression results in the partial repositioning of these nucleosomes. In the proline cluster, the inhibition of deacetylases by trichostatin A leads to partial derepression and is associated with a lack of nucleosome positioning. Here, we investigate the effect of histone acetylation in the proline cluster using strains deleted of essential components of putative A. nidulans histone acetyltransferase complexes, namely, gcnE and adaB, the orthologues of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae GCN5 and ADA2 genes, respectively. Surprisingly, GcnE and AdaB are not required for transcriptional activation and chromatin remodeling but are required for the repression of prnB and prnD and for the repositioning of nucleosomes in the divergent promoter region. Chromatin immunoprecipitation directed against histone H3 lysines K9 and K14 revealed that GcnE and AdaB participate in increasing the acetylation level of at least one nucleosome in the prnD-prnB intergenic region during activation, but these activities do not determine nucleosome positioning. Our results are consistent with a function of GcnE and AdaB in gene repression of the proline cluster, probably an indirect effect related to the function of CreA, the DNA-binding protein mediating carbon catabolite repression in A. nidulans.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The production by filamentous fungi of therapeutic glycoproteins intended for use in mammals is held back by the inherent difference in protein N-glycosylation and by the inability of the fungal cell to modify proteins with mammalian glycosylation structures. Here, we report protein N-glycan engineering in two Aspergillus species. We functionally expressed in the fungal hosts heterologous chimeric fusion proteins containing different localization peptides and catalytic domains. This strategy allowed the isolation of a strain with a functional alpha-1,2-mannosidase producing increased amounts of N-glycans of the Man5GlcNAc2 type. This strain was further engineered by the introduction of a functional GlcNAc transferase I construct yielding GlcNAcMan5GlcNac2 N-glycans. Additionally, we deleted algC genes coding for an enzyme involved in an early step of the fungal glycosylation pathway yielding Man3GlcNAc2 N-glycans. This modification of fungal glycosylation is a step toward the ability to produce humanized complex N-glycans on therapeutic proteins in filamentous fungi.
Applied and environmental microbiology 03/2008; 74(4):1076-86. · 3.69 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: NirA, the specific transcription factor of the nitrate assimilation pathway of Aspergillus nidulans, accumulates in the nucleus upon induction by nitrate. NirA interacts with the nuclear export factor KapK, which bridges an interaction with a protein of the nucleoporin-like family (NplA). Nitrate induction disrupts the NirA-KapK interaction in vivo, whereas KapK associates with NirA when this protein is exported from the nucleus. A KpaK leptomycin-sensitive mutation leads to inducer-independent NirA nuclear accumulation in the presence of the drug. However, this does not lead to constitutive expression of the genes controlled by NirA. A nirA(c)1 mutation leads to constitutive nuclear localization and activity, remodeling of chromatin, and in vivo binding to a NirA upstream activation sequence. The nirA(c)1 mutation maps in the nuclear export signal (NES) of the NirA protein. The NirA-KapK interaction is nearly abolished in NirA(c)1 and NirA proteins mutated in canonical leucine residues in the NirA NES. The latter do not result in constitutively active NirA protein, which implies that nuclear retention is necessary but not sufficient for NirA activity. The results are consistent with a model in which activation of NirA by nitrate disrupts the interaction of NirA with the NplA/KapK nuclear export complex, thus resulting in nuclear retention, leading to AreA-facilitated DNA binding of the NirA protein and subsequent chromatin remodeling and transcriptional activation.
Molecular and Cellular Biology 03/2007; 27(3):791-802. · 5.37 Impact Factor