Functional characterization of the idtF and idtP genes in the Claviceps paspali indole diterpene biosynthetic gene cluster.
ABSTRACT: Claviceps paspali is used in the pharmaceutical industry for the production of ergot alkaloids. This fungus also biosynthesizes paspalitrems, indole diterpene (IDT) mycotoxins that cause significant economic losses in agriculture and represent safety concerns for ergot alkaloid manufacture. Here, we use Agrobacterium-mediated transformation to replace the idtP and the idtF genes in the IDT biosynthetic gene cluster of C. paspali with a selectable marker gene. We show that the ?idtP knockout mutant produces paspaline, the first IDT intermediate of the pathway. The ?idtF strain produces unprenylated IDTs such as paspalinine and paspaline. These experiments validate the function of idtP as the gene encoding the cytochrome P450 monooxygenase that oxidizes and demethylates paspaline to produce 13-desoxypaxilline, and that of idtF as the gene that encodes the ?-prenyltransferase that prenylates paspalinine at the C20 or the C21 positions to yield paspalitrems A and C, respectively. In addition, we also show that axenic cultures of the wild type, the ?idtP and the ?idtF mutant C. paspali strains fail to produce an assembly of IDTs that are present in C. paspali-Paspalum spp. associations.
Project description:The hypocrealean fungus Claviceps paspali is a parasite of wild grasses. This fungus is widely utilized in the pharmaceutical industry for the manufacture of ergot alkaloids, but also produces tremorgenic and neurotoxic indole-diterpene (IDT) secondary metabolites such as paspalitrems A and B. IDTs cause significant losses in agriculture and represent health hazards that threaten food security. Conversely, IDTs may also be utilized as lead compounds for pharmaceutical drug discovery. Current protoplast-mediated transformation protocols of C. paspali are inadequate as they suffer from inefficiencies in protoplast regeneration, a low frequency of DNA integration, and a low mitotic stability of the nascent transformants. We adapted and optimized Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated transformation (ATMT) for C. paspali and validated this method with the straightforward creation of a mutant strain of this fungus featuring a targeted replacement of key genes in the putative IDT biosynthetic gene cluster. Complete abrogation of IDT production in isolates of the mutant strain proved the predicted involvement of the target genes in the biosynthesis of IDTs. The mutant isolates continued to produce ergot alkaloids undisturbed, indicating that equivalent mutants generated in industrial ergot producers may have a better safety profile as they are devoid of IDT-type mycotoxins. Meanwhile, ATMT optimized for Claviceps spp. may open the door for the facile genetic engineering of these industrially and ecologically important organisms.
Project description:Indole-diterpenes (IDTs) such as the aflatrems, janthitrems, lolitrems, paspalitrems, penitrems, shearinines, sulpinines, and terpendoles are biogenetically related but structurally varied tremorgenic and neurotoxic mycotoxins produced by fungi. All these metabolites derive from the biosynthetic intermediate paspaline, a frequently occurring IDT on its own right. In this comprehensive review, we highlight the similarities and differences of the IDT biosynthetic pathways that lead to the generation of the main paspaline-derived IDT subgroups. We survey the taxonomic distribution and the regulation of IDT production in various fungi and compare the organization of the known IDT biosynthetic gene clusters. A detailed assessment of the highly diverse biological activities of these mycotoxins leads us to emphasize the significant losses that paspaline-derived IDTs cause in agriculture, and compels us to warn about the various hazards they represent towards human and livestock health. Conversely, we also describe the potential utility of these versatile molecules as lead compounds for pharmaceutical drug discovery, and examine the prospects for their industrial scale manufacture in genetically manipulated IDT producers or domesticated host microorganisms in synthetic biological production systems.
Project description:Here, we report a new draft genome sequence of an isolate of the ascomycete Claviceps paspali that is responsible for ergot disease in grasses of the Paspalum genus. This new draft genome sequence will provide useful data for evaluating intraspecies and interspecies genome variation in C. paspali and other Claviceps genus members.
Project description:The structural diversity and biological activities of fungal indole diterpenes (IDTs) are generated in large part by the IDT cyclases (IDTCs). Identifying different IDTCs from IDT biosynthetic pathways is therefore important toward understanding how these enzymes introduce chemical diversity from a common linear precursor. However, IDTCs involved in the cyclization of the well-known aflavinine subgroup of IDTs have not been discovered. Here, using Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a heterologous host and a phylogenetically guided enzyme mining approach, we combinatorially assembled IDT biosynthetic pathways using IDTCs homologues identified from different fungal hosts. We identified the genetically standalone IDTCs involved in the cyclization of aflavinine and anominine and produced new IDTs not previously isolated. The cyclization mechanisms of the new IDTCs were proposed based on the yeast reconstitution results. Our studies demonstrate heterologous pathway assembly is a useful tool in the reconstitution of unclustered biosynthetic pathways.
Project description:Implementing the treatment arm of a clinical trial often requires changes to healthcare practices. Barriers to such changes may undermine the delivery of the treatment making it more likely that the trial will demonstrate no treatment effect. The 'Major outcomes with personalized dialysate temperature' (MyTEMP) is a cluster-randomised trial to be conducted in 84 haemodialysis centres across Ontario, Canada to investigate whether there is a difference in major outcomes with an individualized dialysis temperature (IDT) of 0.5 °C below a patient's body temperature measured at the beginning of each haemodialysis session, compared to a standard dialysis temperature of 36.5 °C. To inform how to deploy the IDT across many haemodialysis centres, we assessed haemodialysis physicians' and nurses' perceived barriers and enablers to IDT use.We developed two topic guides using the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF) to assess perceived barriers and enablers to IDT ordering and IDT setting (physician and nurse behaviours, respectively). We recruited a purposive sample of haemodialysis physicians and nurses from across Ontario and conducted in-person or telephone interviews. We used directed content analysis to double-code transcribed utterances into TDF domains, and inductive thematic analysis to develop themes.We interviewed nine physicians and nine nurses from 11 Ontario haemodialysis centres. We identified seven themes of potential barriers and facilitators to implementing IDTs: (1) awareness of clinical guidelines and how IDT fits with local policies (knowledge; goals), (2) benefits and motivation to use IDT (beliefs about consequences; optimism; reinforcement; intention; goals), (3) alignment of IDTs with usual practice and roles (social/professional role and identity; nature of the behaviour; beliefs about capabilities), (4) thermometer availability/accuracy and dialysis machine characteristics (environmental context and resources), (5) impact on workload (beliefs about consequences; beliefs about capabilities), (6) patient comfort (behavioural regulation; beliefs about consequences; emotion), and (7) forgetting to prescribe or set IDT (memory, attention, decision making processes; emotion).There are anticipatable barriers to changing healthcare professionals' behaviours to effectively deliver an intervention within a randomised clinical trial. A behaviour change framework can help to systematically identify such barriers to inform better delivery and evaluation of the treatment, therefore potentially increasing the fidelity of the intervention to increase the internal validity of the trial. These findings will be used to optimise the delivery of IDT in the MyTEMP trial and demonstrate how this approach can be used to plan intervention delivery in other clinical trials.ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02628366 . Registered November 16 2015.
Project description:The penitremane and janthitremane families of indole-diterpenes are abundant natural products synthesized by Penicillium crustosum and P. janthinellum. Using a combination of PCR, cosmid library screening, and Illumina sequencing we have identified gene clusters encoding enzymes for the synthesis of these compounds. Targeted deletion of penP in P. crustosum abolished the synthesis of penitrems A, B, D, E, and F, and led to accumulation of paspaline, a key intermediate for paxilline biosynthesis in P. paxilli. Similarly, deletion of janP and janD in P. janthinellum abolished the synthesis of prenyl-elaborated indole-diterpenes, and led to accumulation in the latter of 13-desoxypaxilline, a key intermediate for the synthesis of the structurally related aflatremanes synthesized by Aspergillus flavus. This study helps resolve the genetic basis for the complexity of indole-diterpene natural products found within the Penicillium and Aspergillus species. All indole-diterpene gene clusters identified to date have a core set of genes for the synthesis of paspaline and a suite of genes encoding multi-functional cytochrome P450 monooxygenases, FAD dependent monooxygenases, and prenyl transferases that catalyse various regio- and stereo- specific oxidations that give rise to the diversity of indole-diterpene products synthesized by this group of fungi.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Claviceps purpurea is a phytopathogenic fungus infecting a broad range of grasses including economically important cereal crop plants. The infection cycle ends with the formation of the typical purple-black pigmented sclerotia containing the toxic ergot alkaloids. Besides these ergot alkaloids little is known about the secondary metabolism of the fungus. Red anthraquinone derivatives and yellow xanthone dimers (ergochromes) have been isolated from sclerotia and described as ergot pigments, but the corresponding gene cluster has remained unknown. Fungal pigments gain increasing interest for example as environmentally friendly alternatives to existing dyes. Furthermore, several pigments show biological activities and may have some pharmaceutical value. RESULTS:This study identified the gene cluster responsible for the synthesis of the ergot pigments. Overexpression of the cluster-specific transcription factor led to activation of the gene cluster and to the production of several known ergot pigments. Knock out of the cluster key enzyme, a nonreducing polyketide synthase, clearly showed that this cluster is responsible for the production of red anthraquinones as well as yellow ergochromes. Furthermore, a tentative biosynthetic pathway for the ergot pigments is proposed. By changing the culture conditions, pigment production was activated in axenic culture so that high concentration of phosphate and low concentration of sucrose induced pigment syntheses. CONCLUSIONS:This is the first functional analysis of a secondary metabolite gene cluster in the ergot fungus besides that for the classical ergot alkaloids. We demonstrated that this gene cluster is responsible for the typical purple-black color of the ergot sclerotia and showed that the red and yellow ergot pigments are products of the same biosynthetic pathway. Activation of the gene cluster in axenic culture opened up new possibilities for biotechnological applications like the dye production or the development of new pharmaceuticals.
Project description:Acoustic streaming has been widely used in microfluidics to manipulate various micro-/nano-objects. In this work, acoustic streaming activated by interdigital transducers (IDT) immersed in highly viscous oil is studied numerically and experimentally. In particular, we developed a modeling strategy termed the "slip velocity method" that enables a 3D simulation of surface acoustic wave microfluidics in a large domain (4 × 4 × 2 mm3) and at a high frequency (23.9 MHz). The experimental and numerical results both show that on top of the oil, all the acoustic streamlines converge at two horizontal stagnation points above the two symmetric sides of the IDT. At these two stagnation points, water droplets floating on the oil can be trapped. Based on these characteristics of the acoustic streaming field, we designed a surface acoustic wave microfluidic device with an integrated IDT array fabricated on a 128°YX LiNbO3 substrate to perform programmable, contactless droplet manipulation. By activating IDTs accordingly, the water droplets on the oil can be moved to the corresponding traps. With its excellent capability for manipulating droplets in a highly programmable, controllable manner, our surface acoustic wave microfluidic devices are valuable for on-chip contactless sample handling and chemical reactions.
Project description:Biosynthesis of the dihydrogenated forms of ergot alkaloids is of interest because many of the ergot alkaloids used as pharmaceuticals may be derived from dihydrolysergic acid (DHLA) or its precursor dihydrolysergol. The maize (Zea mays) ergot pathogen Claviceps gigantea has been reported to produce dihydrolysergol, a hydroxylated derivative of the common ergot alkaloid festuclavine. We hypothesized expression of C. gigantea cloA in a festuclavine-accumulating mutant of the fungus Neosartorya fumigata would yield dihydrolysergol because the P450 monooxygenase CloA from other fungi performs similar oxidation reactions. We engineered such a strain, and high performance liquid chromatography and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry analyses demonstrated the modified strain produced DHLA, the fully oxidized product of dihydrolysergol. Accumulation of high concentrations of DHLA in field-collected C. gigantea sclerotia and discovery of a mutation in the gene lpsA, downstream from DHLA formation, supported our finding that DHLA rather than dihydrolysergol is the end product of the C. gigantea pathway.
Project description:Aflatrem is a potent tremorgenic toxin produced by the soil fungus Aspergillus flavus, and a member of a structurally diverse group of fungal secondary metabolites known as indole-diterpenes. Gene clusters for indole-diterpene biosynthesis have recently been described in several species of filamentous fungi. A search of Aspergillus complete genome sequence data identified putative aflatrem gene clusters in the genomes of A. flavus and Aspergillus oryzae. In both species the genes for aflatrem biosynthesis cluster at two discrete loci; the first, ATM1, is telomere proximal on chromosome 5 and contains a cluster of three genes, atmG, atmC, and atmM, and the second, ATM2, is telomere distal on chromosome 7 and contains five genes, atmD, atmQ, atmB, atmA, and atmP. Reverse transcriptase PCR in A. flavus demonstrated that aflatrem biosynthesis transcript levels increased with the onset of aflatrem production. Transfer of atmP and atmQ into Penicillium paxilli paxP and paxQ deletion mutants, known to accumulate paxilline intermediates paspaline and 13-desoxypaxilline, respectively, showed that AtmP is a functional homolog of PaxP and that AtmQ utilizes 13-desoxypaxilline as a substrate to synthesize aflatrem pathway-specific intermediates, paspalicine and paspalinine. We propose a scheme for aflatrem biosynthesis in A. flavus based on these reconstitution experiments in P. paxilli and identification of putative intermediates in wild-type cultures of A. flavus.