A three-gene cluster in Trichoderma reesei reveals a potential role of dmm2 in DNA repair and cellulase production
Biotechnol Biofuels Bioprod. 2022 Mar 29;15(1):34. doi: 10.1186/s13068-022-02132-y.
BACKGROUND: The ascomycete Trichoderma reesei is one of the most efficient industrial producers of cellulase. Gene targeting by homologous recombination is a key technique for improving strains and constructing mutants. In T. reesei, tku70 (homologous to human KU70) was deleted to block non-homologous end-joining, which led to 95% of transformants exhibiting homologous recombination.
RESULTS: Two genes located in close proximity to tku70 were identified: the ferrochelatase gene hem8 (tre78582, homologous to Aspergillus niger hemH and Cryptococcus neoformans HEM15) and a putative DNA methylation modulator-2 gene dmm2 (tre108087, homologous to Neurospora crassa dmm-2). Genome-wide surveys of 324 sequenced fungal genomes revealed that the homologues of the three genes of interest are encoded in tandem in most Sordariomycetes. The expression of this three-gene cluster is regulated by blue light. The roles of these three genes were analyzed via deletion and complementation tests. The gene hem8 was originally described as a novel and highly distinct auxotrophic marker in T. reesei and we found that the product protein, HEM8, catalyzes the final step in heme biosynthesis from highly photoreactive porphyrins. The lethal phenotype of the hem8 deletion could be overcome by hematin supplementation. We also studied the functions of tku70 and dmm2 in DNA repair using mutagen sensitivity experiments. We found that the Δtku70 strain showed increased sensitivity to bleomycin, which induces DNA double-strand breaks, and that the Δdmm2 strain was sensitive to bleomycin, camptothecin (an inhibitor of type I topoisomerases), and hydroxyurea (a deoxynucleotide synthesis inhibitor). The double-mutant Δtku70&dmm2 showed higher sensitivity to hydroxyurea, camptothecin, and bleomycin than either of the single mutants. Knockout of dmm2 significantly increased cellulase production.
CONCLUSIONS: Our data show, for the first time, that ferrochelatase encoded by hem8 catalyzes the final step in heme biosynthesis from highly photoreactive porphyrins and that dmm2 encodes a putative DNA methylation modulator-2 protein related to DNA repair and cellulase expression in T. reesei. Our data provide important insights into the roles of this three-gene cluster in T. reesei and other Sordariomycetes and show that the DNA methylation modulator DMM2 affects cellulase gene expression in T. reesei.