Identification of a polyketide biosynthesis gene cluster by transcriptional regulator activation in Aspergillus terreus
Fungal Genet Biol. 2022 Mar 26:103690. doi: 10.1016/j.fgb.2022.103690. Online ahead of print.
In filamentous fungi, the secondary metabolism is environmentally sensitive. Most of the biosynthetic gene clusters of secondary metabolites are silent under laboratory conditions. In this study, a highly conserved naphthopyrone PKS ATEG_06206 was identified in the genome sequence of A. terreus MEFC01. This gene is silent under laboratory conditions. To study the function of this PKS, we activated the silent biosynthetic pathway by replacing the promoter of cluster-specific transcriptional factor ATEG_06205 in A. terreus MEFC01. With this strategy, we confirmed that the products of this cryptic PKS are naphthoquinones. These naphthoquinones are soluble pigments, which could be secreted into the agar medium and culture broth. For this reason, the colour of mycelium and conidia of the activated mutant was significantly darker than that of the parental strain. The gene cluster and biosynthetic pathway were further elucidated through the reverse genetics approach and enzymatic assay in vitro.