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A novel gene, fas-1A, directly involved in aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) biosynthesis, was cloned by genetic complementation of an Aspergillus parasiticus mutant strain, UVM8, blocked at two unique sites in the AFB1 biosynthetic pathway. Metabolite conversion studies localized the two genetic blocks to early steps in the AFB1 pathway (nor-1 and fas-1A) and confirmed that fas-1A is blocked prior to nor-1. Transformation of UVM8 with cosmids NorA and NorB restored function in nor-1 and fas-1A, resulting in synthesis of AFB1. An 8-kb SacI subclone of cosmid NorA complemented fas-1A only, resulting in accumulation of norsolorinic acid. Gene disruption of the fas-1A locus blocked norsolorinic acid accumulation in A. parasiticus B62 (nor-1), which normally accumulates this intermediate. These data confirmed that fas-1A is directly involved in AFB1 synthesis. The predicted amino acid sequence of fas-1A showed a high level of identity with extensive regions in the enoyl reductase and malonyl/palmityl transferase functional domains in the beta subunit of yeast fatty acid synthetase. Together, these data suggest that fas-1A encodes a novel fatty acid synthetase which synthesizes part of the polyketide backbone of AFB1. Additional data support an interaction between AFB1 synthesis and sclerotium development.