Carbon Catabolite Repression Governs Diverse Physiological Processes and Development in Aspergillus nidulans

mBio. 2022 Feb 15:e0373421. doi: 10.1128/mbio.03734-21. Online ahead of print.


Carbon catabolite repression (CCR) is a common phenomenon of microorganisms that enable efficient utilization of carbon nutrients, critical for the fitness of microorganisms in the wild and for pathogenic species to cause infection. In most filamentous fungal species, the conserved transcription factor CreA/Cre1 mediates CCR. Previous studies demonstrated a primary function for CreA/Cre1 in carbon metabolism; however, the phenotype of creA/cre1 mutants indicated broader roles. The global function and regulatory mechanism of this wide-domain transcription factor has remained elusive. Here, we applied two powerful genomics methods (transcriptome sequencing and chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing) to delineate the direct and indirect roles of Aspergillus nidulans CreA across diverse physiological processes, including secondary metabolism, iron homeostasis, oxidative stress response, development, N-glycan biosynthesis, unfolded protein response, and nutrient and ion transport. The results indicate intricate connections between the regulation of carbon metabolism and diverse cellular functions. Moreover, our work also provides key mechanistic insights into CreA regulation and identifies CreA as a master regulator controlling many transcription factors of different regulatory networks. The discoveries for this highly conserved transcriptional regulator in a model fungus have important implications for CCR in related pathogenic and industrial species. IMPORTANCE The ability to scavenge and use a wide range of nutrients for growth is crucial for microorganisms’ survival in the wild. Carbon catabolite repression (CCR) is a transcriptional regulatory phenomenon of both bacteria and fungi to coordinate the expression of genes required for preferential utilization of carbon sources. Since carbon metabolism is essential for growth, CCR is central to the fitness of microorganisms. In filamentous fungi, CCR is mediated by the conserved transcription factor CreA/Cre1, whose function in carbon metabolism has been well established. However, the global roles and regulatory mechanism of CreA/Cre1 are poorly defined. This study uncovers the direct and indirect functions of CreA in the model organism Aspergillus nidulans over diverse physiological processes and development and provides mechanistic insights into how CreA controls different regulatory networks. The work also reveals an interesting functional divergence between filamentous fungal and yeast CreA/Cre1 orthologues.

PMID:35164551 | DOI:10.1128/mbio.03734-21

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