Project description:The formation of mitotically derived spores, called conidia, is a common reproductive mode in filamentous fungi, particularly among the large fungal class Ascomycetes. Asexual sporulation strategies are nearly as varied as fungal species; however, the formation of conidiophores, specialized multicellular reproductive structures, by the filamentous fungus Aspergillus nidulans has emerged as the leading model for understanding the mechanisms that control fungal sporulation. Initiation of A. nidulans conidiophore formation can occur either as a programmed event in the life cycle in response to intrinsic signals or to environmental stresses such as nutrient deprivation. In either case, a development-specific set of transcription factors is activated and these control the expression of each other as well as genes required for conidiophore morphogenesis. Recent progress has identified many of the earliest-acting genes needed for initiating conidiophore development and shown that there are at least two antagonistic signaling pathways that control this process. One pathway is modulated by a heterotrimeric G protein that when activated stimulates growth and represses both asexual and sexual sporulation as well as production of the toxic secondary metabolite, sterigmatocystin. The second pathway apparently requires an extracellular signal to induce sporulation-specific events and to direct the inactivation of the first pathway, removing developmental repression. A working model is presented in which the regulatory interactions between these two pathways during the fungal life cycle determine whether cells grow or develop.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Aspergillus nidulans is a member of a diverse group of filamentous fungi, sharing many of the properties of its close relatives with significance in the fields of medicine, agriculture and industry. Furthermore, A. nidulans has been a classical model organism for studies of development biology and gene regulation, and thus it has become one of the best-characterized filamentous fungi. It was the first Aspergillus species to have its genome sequenced, and automated gene prediction tools predicted 9,451 open reading frames (ORFs) in the genome, of which less than 10% were assigned a function.<h4>Results</h4>In this work, we have manually assigned functions to 472 orphan genes in the metabolism of A. nidulans, by using a pathway-driven approach and by employing comparative genomics tools based on sequence similarity. The central metabolism of A. nidulans, as well as biosynthetic pathways of relevant secondary metabolites, was reconstructed based on detailed metabolic reconstructions available for A. niger and Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and information on the genetics, biochemistry and physiology of A. nidulans. Thereby, it was possible to identify metabolic functions without a gene associated, and to look for candidate ORFs in the genome of A. nidulans by comparing its sequence to sequences of well-characterized genes in other species encoding the function of interest. A classification system, based on defined criteria, was developed for evaluating and selecting the ORFs among the candidates, in an objective and systematic manner. The functional assignments served as a basis to develop a mathematical model, linking 666 genes (both previously and newly annotated) to metabolic roles. The model was used to simulate metabolic behavior and additionally to integrate, analyze and interpret large-scale gene expression data concerning a study on glucose repression, thereby providing a means of upgrading the information content of experimental data and getting further insight into this phenomenon in A. nidulans.<h4>Conclusion</h4>We demonstrate how pathway modeling of A. nidulans can be used as an approach to improve the functional annotation of the genome of this organism. Furthermore we show how the metabolic model establishes functional links between genes, enabling the upgrade of the information content of transcriptome data.
Project description:Aspergillus nidulans has three high mobility group box (HMGB) proteins, HmbA, HmbB and HmbC that are chromatin-associated architectural proteins involved in DNA-related functions. By creating and studying deletion strains in both veA+ and veA1 background, we have characterized the role of HmbA, HmbB and HmbC in sexual development. Expression of the mating-type MAT1-1 and MAT1-2 coding genes were found to be extremely down-regulated in all three mutants on day 4 of sexual development, which results in deficient ascospore production and/or ascospore viability in the mutants. In addition, we found that HmbA and HmbB play also a role in sensing of and response to environmental signals, while HmbC functionally interacts with VeA, a key regulator of the coordination of asexual and sexual development, as well as of secondary metabolism.
Project description:The lack of an experimentally amenable sexual genetic system in Aspergillus fumigatus is a major limitation in the study of the organism's pathogenesis. A recent comparative genome analysis revealed evidence for potential sexuality in A. fumigatus. Homologs of mating type genes as well as other genes of the "sexual machinery" have been identified in anamorphic A. fumigatus. The mat1-2 gene encodes a homolog of MatA, an HMG box mating transcriptional factor (Mat(HMG)) that regulates sexual development in fertile Aspergillus nidulans. In this study, the functionalities of A. fumigatus mat1-2 and the Mat1-2 protein were determined by interspecies gene exchange between sterile A. fumigatus and fertile A. nidulans. Ectopically integrated A. fumigatus mat1-2 (driven by its own promoter) was not functional in a sterile A. nidulans Delta matA strain, and no sexual development was observed. In contrast, the A. fumigatus mat1-2 open reading frame driven by the A. nidulans matA promoter and integrated by homologous gene replacement at the matA locus was functional and conferred full fertility. This is the first report showing that cross species mating type gene exchange between closely related Ascomycetes did not function in sexual development. This is also the first report demonstrating that a Mat(HMG) protein from an asexual species is fully functional, with viable ascospore differentiation, in a fertile homothallic species. The expression of mat1-2 was assessed in A. fumigatus and A. nidulans. Our data suggest that mat1-2 may not be properly regulated to allow sexuality in A. fumigatus. This study provides new insights about A. fumigatus asexuality and also suggests the possibility for the development of an experimentally amenable sexual cycle.
Project description:Fungal development and secondary metabolism is intimately associated via activities of the fungi-specific velvet family proteins including VeA, VosA, VelB and VelC. Among these, VelC has not been characterized in Aspergillus nidulans. In this study, we characterize the role of VelC in asexual and sexual development in A. nidulans. The velC mRNA specifically accumulates during the early phase of sexual development. The deletion of velC leads to increased number of conidia and reduced production of sexual fruiting bodies (cleistothecia). In the velC deletion mutant, mRNA levels of the brlA, abaA, wetA and vosA genes that control sequential activation of asexual sporulation increase. Overexpression of velC causes increased formation of cleistothecia. These results suggest that VelC functions as a positive regulator of sexual development. VelC is one of the five proteins that physically interact with VosA in yeast two-hybrid and GST pull down analyses. The ?velC ?vosA double mutant produced fewer cleistothecia and behaved similar to the ?vosA mutant, suggesting that VosA is epistatic to VelC in sexual development, and that VelC might mediate control of sex through interacting with VosA at specific life stages for sexual fruiting.
Project description:Systemic fungal infections contribute to at least 10% of deaths in hospital settings. Most antifungal drugs target ergosterol (polyenes) or its biosynthetic pathway (azoles and allylamines), or beta-glucan synthesis (echinocandins). Antifungal drugs that target proteins are prone to the emergence of resistant strains. Identification of genes whose mutations lead to targeted resistance can provide new information on those pathways. We used Aspergillus nidulans as a model system to exploit its tractable sexual cycle and calcofluor white as a model antifungal agent to cross-reference our results with other studies. Within 2 weeks from inoculation on sublethal doses of calcofluor white, we isolated 24 A. nidulans adaptive strains from sectoring colonies. Meiotic analysis showed that these strains had single-gene mutations. In each case, the resistance was specific to calcofluor white, since there was no cross-resistance to caspofungin (echinocandin). Mutation sites were identified in two mutants by next-generation sequencing. These were confirmed by reengineering the mutation in a wild-type strain using a gene replacement strategy. One of these mutated genes was related to cell wall synthesis, and the other one was related to drug metabolism. Our strategy has wide application for many fungal species, for antifungal compounds used in agriculture as well as health care, and potentially during protracted drug therapy once drug resistance arises. We suggest that our strategy will be useful for keeping ahead in the drug resistance arms race.
Project description:The fungal class 1 lysine deacetylase (KDAC) RpdA is a promising target for prevention and treatment of invasive fungal infection. RpdA is essential for survival of the most common air-borne mold pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus and the model organism Aspergillus nidulans. In A. nidulans, RpdA depletion induced production of previously unknown small bioactive substances. As known from yeasts and mammals, class 1 KDACs act as components of multimeric protein complexes, which previously was indicated also for A. nidulans. Composition of these complexes, however, remained obscure. In this study, we used tandem affinity purification to characterize different RpdA complexes and their composition in A. nidulans. In addition to known class 1 KDAC interactors, we identified a novel RpdA complex, which was termed RcLS2F. It contains ScrC, previously described as suppressor of the transcription factor CrzA, as well as the uncharacterized protein FscA. We show that recruitment of FscA depends on ScrC and we provide clear evidence that ?crzA suppression by ScrC depletion is due to a lack of transcriptional repression caused by loss of the novel RcLS2F complex. Moreover, RcLS2F is essential for sexual development and engaged in an autoregulatory feed-back loop.
Project description:Orchestration of cellular growth and development occurs during the life cycle of Aspergillus nidulans. A multi-copy genetic screen intended to unveil novel regulators of development identified the AN6578 locus predicted to encode a protein with the WOPR domain, which is a broadly present fungi-specific DNA-binding motif. Multi-copy of AN6578 disrupted the normal life cycle of the fungus leading to enhanced proliferation of vegetative cells, whereas the deletion resulted in hyper-active sexual fruiting with reduced asexual development (conidiation), thus named as osaA (Orchestrator of Sex and Asex). Further genetic studies indicate that OsaA balances development mainly by repressing sexual development downstream of the velvet regulator VeA. The absence of osaA is sufficient to suppress the veA1 allele leading to the sporulation levels comparable to veA+ wild type (WT). Genome-wide transcriptomic analyses of WT, veA1, and ?osaA veA1 strains by RNA-Seq further corroborate that OsaA functions in repressing sexual development downstream of VeA. However, OsaA also plays additional roles in controlling development, as the ?osaA veA1 mutant exhibits precocious and enhanced formation of Hülle cells compared to WT. The OsaA orthologue of Aspergillus flavus is able to complement the osaA null phenotype in A. nidulans, suggesting a conserved role of this group of WOPR domain proteins. In summary, OsaA is an upstream orchestrator of morphological and chemical development in Aspergillus that functions downstream of VeA.
Project description:The ability of fungi to produce both meiospores and mitospores has provided adaptive advantages in survival and dispersal of these organisms. Here we provide evidence of an endogenous mechanism that balances meiospore and mitospore production in the model filamentous fungus Aspergillus nidulans. We have discovered a putative dioxygenase, PpoC, that functions in association with a previously characterized dioxygenase, PpoA, to integrate fatty acid derived oxylipin and spore production. In contrast to PpoA, deletion of ppoC significantly increased meiospore production and decreased mitospore development. Examination of the PpoA and PpoC mutants indicate that this ratio control is associated with two apparent feedback loops. The first loop shows ppoC and ppoA expression is dependent upon, and regulates the expression of, nsdD and brlA, genes encoding transcription factors required for meiospore or mitospore production, respectively. The second loop suggests Ppo oxylipin products antagonistically signal the generation of Ppo substrates. These data support a case for a fungal "oxylipin signature-profile" indicative of relative sexual and asexual spore differentiation.
Project description:Fungal secondary metabolites (SM) are bioactive compounds that are important in fungal ecology and, moreover, both harmful and useful in human endeavors (e.g., as toxins and pharmaceuticals). Recently a nuclear heterocomplex termed the Velvet complex, characterized in the model ascomycete Aspergillus nidulans, was found to be critical for SM production. Deletion of two members of the Velvet complex, laeA and veA, results in near loss of SM and defective sexual spore production in A. nidulans and other species. Using a multicopy-suppressor genetics approach, we have isolated an Aspergillus nidulans gene named rsmA (remediation of secondary metabolism) based upon its ability to remediate secondary metabolism in ?laeA and ?veA backgrounds. Overexpression of rsmA (OE::rsmA) restores production of sterigmatocystin (ST) (a carcinogenic SM) via transcriptional activation of ST biosynthetic genes. However, defects in sexual reproduction in either ?laeA or ?veA strains cannot be overcome by OE::rsmA. An intact Velvet complex coupled with an OE::rsmA allele increases SM many fold over the wild-type level, but loss of rsmA does not decrease SM. RsmA encodes a putative bZIP basic leucine zipper-type transcription factor.