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Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. 1997 March; 61(1): 17–32.
PMCID: PMC232598

Genetic regulation of nitrogen metabolism in the fungi.

Abstract

In the fungi, nitrogen metabolism is controlled by a complex genetic regulatory circuit which ensures the preferential use of primary nitrogen sources and also confers the ability to use many different secondary nitrogen sources when appropriate. Most structural genes encoding nitrogen catabolic enzymes are subject to nitrogen catabolite repression, mediated by positive-acting transcription factors of the GATA family of proteins. However, certain GATA family members, such as the yeast DAL80 factor, act negatively to repress gene expression. Selective expression of the genes which encode enzymes for the metabolism of secondary nitrogen sources is often achieved by induction, mediated by pathway-specific factors, many of which have a GAL4-like C6/Zn2 DNA binding domain. Regulation within the nitrogen circuit also involves specific protein-protein interactions, as exemplified by the specific binding of the negative-acting NMR protein with the positive-acting NIT2 protein of Neurospora crassa. Nitrogen metabolic regulation appears to play a significant role in the pathogenicity of certain animal and plant fungal pathogens.

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