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1.  Fumarate-Mediated Inhibition of Erythrose Reductase, a Key Enzyme for Erythritol Production by Torula corallina 
Torula corallina, a strain presently being used for the industrial production of erythritol, has the highest erythritol yield ever reported for an erythritol-producing microorganism. The increased production of erythritol by Torula corallina with trace elements such as Cu2+ has been thoroughly reported, but the mechanism by which Cu2+ increases the production of erythritol has not been studied. This study demonstrated that supplemental Cu2+ enhanced the production of erythritol, while it significantly decreased the production of a major by-product that accumulates during erythritol fermentation, which was identified as fumarate by instrumental analyses. Erythrose reductase, a key enzyme that converts erythrose to erythritol in T. corallina, was purified to homogeneity by chromatographic methods, including ion-exchange and affinity chromatography. In vitro, purified erythrose reductase was significantly inhibited noncompetitively by increasing the fumarate concentration. In contrast, the enzyme activity remained almost constant regardless of Cu2+ concentration. This suggests that supplemental Cu2+ reduced the production of fumarate, a strong inhibitor of erythrose reductase, which led to less inhibition of erythrose reductase and a high yield of erythritol. This is the first report that suggests catabolite repression by a tricarboxylic acid cycle intermediate in T. corallina.
PMCID: PMC124133  PMID: 12200310
2.  Biosynthesis and Functions of Melanin in Sporothrix schenckii 
Infection and Immunity  2000;68(6):3696-3703.
Sporothrix schenckii is a human pathogen that causes sporotrichosis, an important cutaneous mycosis with a worldwide distribution. It produces dark-brown conidia, which infect the host. We found that S. schenckii synthesizes melanin via the 1,8-dihydroxynaphthalene pentaketide pathway. Melanin biosynthesis in the wild type was inhibited by tricyclazole, and colonies of the fungus were reddish brown instead of black on tricyclazole-amended medium. Two melanin-deficient mutant strains were analyzed in this study: an albino that produced normal-appearing melanin on scytalone-amended medium and a reddish brown mutant that accumulated and extruded melanin metabolites into its medium. Scytalone and flaviolin obtained from cultures of the reddish brown mutant were identified by thin-layer chromatography, high-performance liquid chromatography, and UV spectra. Transmission electron microscopy showed an electron-dense granular material believed to be melanin in wild-type conidial cell walls, and this was absent in conidial walls of the albino mutant unless the albino was grown on a scytalone-amended medium. Melanized cells of wild-type S. schenckii and the albino grown on scytalone-amended medium were less susceptible to killing by chemically generated oxygen- and nitrogen-derived radicals and by UV light than were conidia of the mutant strains. Melanized conidia of the wild type and the scytalone-treated albino were also more resistant to phagocytosis and killing by human monocytes and murine macrophages than were unmelanized conidia of the two mutants. These results demonstrate that melanin protects S. schenckii against certain oxidative antimicrobial compounds and against attack by macrophages.
PMCID: PMC97661  PMID: 10816530
3.  The influence of ortho- and para-diphenoloxidase substrates on pigment formation in black yeast-like fungi 
Studies in Mycology  2008;61:39-49.
Dothideaceous black yeast-like fungi (BYF) are known to synthesise DHN-melanin that is inhibited by the systemic fungicide tricyclazole. The final step of the DHN melanin pathway is the conjoining of 1,8-DHN molecules to form the melanin polymer. There are several candidate enzymes for this step, including phenoloxidases such as tyrosinase and laccases, peroxidases, and perhaps also catalases. We analysed the type polyphenoloxidases that are involved in biosynthesis of BYF melanins. For that purpose we used substrates of o-diphenoloxidases (EC 4-hydroxyphenyl-pyruvic acid, L-β-phenyllactic acid, tyrosine, pyrocatechol, 3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine and homogentisic acid, as well as substrates of p-diphenoloxidases (EC syringaldazine, resorcinol, p-phenylenediamine, phloroglucinol, guaiacol and pyrogallic acid. Fourteen strains of black yeasts originating from different natural biotopes were investigated. The tested strains could be divided into four groups based on their ability to produce dark pigments when cultivated on aromatic substrates of o- and on p-diphenoloxidases. It was established that syringaldazine, pyrogallic acid and 4-hydrophenyl-pyruvic acid, β-phenyllactic acid optimally promote melanin biosynthesis. Average intensity of pigmentation of all strains studied was minimal when guaiacol was used as a substrate. The present investigation indicates that the melanisation process may involve more enzymes and more substrates than those commonly recognised. Black yeasts are likely to contain a multipotent polyphenoloxidase.
PMCID: PMC2610312  PMID: 19287525
Black yeast-like fungi; Dothideales; dothideaceous black yeasts; 1,8-dihydroxynaphthalene-melanin; phenoloxidases; o-diphenoloxidases; p-diphenoloxidases
4.  Melanin in Fonsecaea pedrosoi: a trap for oxidative radicals 
BMC Microbiology  2010;10:80.
The pathogenic fungus Fonsecaea pedrosoi constitutively produces the pigment melanin, an important virulence factor in fungi. Melanin is incorporated in the cell wall structure and provides chemical and physical protection for the fungus.
We evaluated the production of nitric oxide (NO) in macrophages, the oxidative burst and the inducible nitric oxide synthase (i-NOS) activity in interactions between activated murine macrophages and F. pedrosoi. Experiments were carried out with or without tricyclazole (TC) treatment, a selective inhibitor of the dihydroxynaphthalene (DHN)-melanin biosynthesis pathway in F. pedrosoi. The paramagnetisms of melanin and the TC-melanin were analysed by electron spin resonance. The fungal growth responses to H2O2 and to S-nitroso-N-acetylpenicillamine (SNAP), a nitric oxide donor, were also evaluated.
Melanised F. pedrosoi cells were more resistant to both H2O2 and NO. Nitrite was not detected in the supernatant of macrophages incubated with melanised fungal cells. However, i-NOS expression was unaffected by the presence of either untreated control F. pedrosoi or TC-treated F. pedrosoi. In addition, the inhibition of the DHN-melanin pathway by TC improved the oxidative burst capability of the macrophages.
The NO-trapping ability of F. pedrosoi melanin is an important mechanism to escape the oxidative burst of macrophages.
PMCID: PMC2845570  PMID: 20233438
5.  Molecular Cloning and Characterization of WdPKS1, a Gene Involved in Dihydroxynaphthalene Melanin Biosynthesis and Virulence in Wangiella (Exophiala) dermatitidis 
Infection and Immunity  2001;69(3):1781-1794.
1,8-Dihydroxynaphthalene (1,8-DHN) is a fungal polyketide that contributes to virulence when polymerized to 1,8-DHN melanin in the cell walls of Wangiella dermatitidis, an agent of phaeohyphomycosis in humans. To begin a genetic analysis of the initial synthetic steps leading to 1,8-DHN melanin biosynthesis, a 772-bp PCR product was amplified from genomic DNA using primers based on conserved regions of fungal polyketide synthases (Pks) known to produce the first cyclized 1,8-DHN-melanin pathway intermediate, 1,3,6,8-tetrahydroxynaphthalene. The cloned PCR product was then used as a targeting sequence to disrupt the putative polyketide synthase gene, WdPKS1, in W. dermatitidis. The resulting wdpks1Δ disruptants showed no morphological defects other than an albino phenotype and grew at the same rate as their black wild-type parent. Using a marker rescue approach, the intact WdPKS1 gene was then successfully recovered from two plasmids. The WdPKS1 gene was also isolated independently by complementation of the mel3 mutation in an albino mutant of W. dermatitidis using a cosmid library. Sequence analysis substantiated that WdPKS1 encoded a putative polyketide synthase (WdPks1p) in a single open reading frame consisting of three exons separated by two short introns. This conclusion was supported by the identification of highly conserved Pks domains for a β-ketoacyl synthase, an acetyl-malonyl transferase, two acyl carrier proteins, and a thioesterase in the deduced amino acid sequence. Studies using a neutrophil killing assay and a mouse acute-infection model confirmed that all wdpks1Δ strains were less resistant to killing and less virulent, respectively, than their wild-type parent. Reconstitution of 1,8-DHN melanin biosynthesis in a wdpks1Δ strain reestablished its resistance to killing by neutrophils and its ability to cause fatal mouse infections.
PMCID: PMC98085  PMID: 11179356
6.  Aspergillus fumigatus melanins: interference with the host endocytosis pathway and impact on virulence 
The opportunistic human pathogenic fungus Aspergillus fumigatus produces at least two types of melanin, namely pyomelanin and dihydroxynaphthalene (DHN) melanin. Pyomelanin is produced during tyrosine catabolism via accumulation of homogentisic acid. Although pyomelanin protects the fungus against reactive oxygen species (ROS) and acts as a defense compound in response to cell wall stress, mutants deficient for pyomelanin biosynthesis do not differ in virulence when tested in a murine infection model for invasive pulmonary aspergillosis. DHN melanin is responsible for the characteristic gray-greenish color of A. fumigatus conidia. Mutants lacking a functional polyketide synthase PksP, the enzyme responsible for the initial step in DHN-melanin formation, i.e., the synthesis of naphthopyrone, produce white spores and are attenuated in virulence. The activity of PksP was found to be essential not only for inhibition of apoptosis of phagocytes by interfering with the host PI3K/Akt signaling cascade but also for effective inhibition of acidification of conidia-containing phagolysosomes. These features allow A. fumigatus to survive in phagocytes and thereby to escape from human immune effector cells and to become a successful pathogen.
PMCID: PMC3548413  PMID: 23346079
Aspergillus fumigatus; melanin; virulence; apoptosis; phagocytes; endocytosis
7.  Biosynthesis and Functions of a Melanoid Pigment Produced by Species of the Sporothrix Complex in the Presence of l-Tyrosine 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2012;78(24):8623-8630.
Sporothrix schenckii is the etiological agent of sporotrichosis, the main subcutaneous mycosis in Latin America. Melanin is an important virulence factor of S. schenckii, which produces dihydroxynaphthalene melanin (DHN-melanin) in conidia and yeast cells. Additionally, l-dihydroxyphenylalanine (l-DOPA) can be used to enhance melanin production on these structures as well as on hyphae. Some fungi are able to synthesize another type of melanoid pigment, called pyomelanin, as a result of tyrosine catabolism. Since there is no information about tyrosine catabolism in Sporothrix spp., we cultured 73 strains, including representatives of newly described Sporothrix species of medical interest, such as S. brasiliensis, S. schenckii, and S. globosa, in minimal medium with tyrosine. All strains but one were able to produce a melanoid pigment with a negative charge in this culture medium after 9 days of incubation. An S. schenckii DHN-melanin mutant strain also produced pigment in the presence of tyrosine. Further analysis showed that pigment production occurs in both the filamentous and yeast phases, and pigment accumulates in supernatants during stationary-phase growth. Notably, sulcotrione inhibits pigment production. Melanin ghosts of wild-type and DHN mutant strains obtained when the fungus was cultured with tyrosine were similar to melanin ghosts yielded in the absence of the precursor, indicating that this melanin does not polymerize on the fungal cell wall. However, pyomelanin-producing fungal cells were more resistant to nitrogen-derived oxidants and to UV light. In conclusion, at least three species of the Sporothrix complex are able to produce pyomelanin in the presence of tyrosine, and this pigment might be involved in virulence.
PMCID: PMC3502921  PMID: 23042177
8.  Growth conditions influence melanization of Brazilian clinical Sporothrix schenckii isolates 
Sporothrix schenckii is known to produce DHN melanin on both conidial and yeast cells, however little information is available regarding the factors inducing fungal melanization. We evaluated whether culture conditions influenced melanization of 25 Brazilian S. schenckii strains and one control strain (ATCC 10212). Tested conditions included different media, pH, temperature, incubation time, glucose concentrations, and presence or absence of tricyclazole or L-DOPA. Melanization was reduced on Sabouraud compared to defined chemical medium. The majority of strains produced small amounts of melanin at 37°C and none melanized at basic pH. Increased glucose concentrations did not inhibit melanization, rather increasing glucose enhanced pigment production in 27% of strains. Melanin synthesis was also enhanced by the addition of L-DOPA and its addition to medium with tricyclazole, an inhibitor of melanin synthesis, resulted in fungal melanization, including hyphal melanin production. Our results suggest that different S. schenckii strains have distinct control of melanization and that this fungus can use phenolic compounds to enhance melanization in vitro.
PMCID: PMC2746353  PMID: 19328867
Sporothrix schenckii; melanin; culture conditions
9.  Enhancing the Stress Tolerance and Virulence of an Entomopathogen by Metabolic Engineering of Dihydroxynaphthalene Melanin Biosynthesis Genes ▿ †  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2011;77(13):4508-4519.
Entomopathogenic fungi have been used for biocontrol of insect pests for many decades. However, the efficacy of such fungi in field trials is often inconsistent, mainly due to environmental stresses, such as UV radiation, temperature extremes, and desiccation. To circumvent these hurdles, metabolic engineering of dihydroxynaphthalene (DHN) melanin biosynthetic genes (polyketide synthase, scytalone dehydratase, and 1,3,8-trihydroxynaphthalene reductase genes) cloned from Alternaria alternata were transformed into the amelanotic entomopathogenic fungus Metarhizium anisopliae via Agrobacterium-mediated transformation. Melanin expression in the transformant of M. anisopliae was verified by spectrophotometric methods, liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS), and confocal microscopy. The transformant, especially under stresses, showed notably enhanced antistress capacity and virulence, in terms of germination and survival rate, infectivity, and reduced median time to death (LT50) in killing diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella) larvae compared with the wild type. The possible mechanisms in enhancing the stress tolerance and virulence, and the significance and potential for engineering melanin biosynthesis genes in other biocontrol agents and crops to improve antistress fitness are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3127726  PMID: 21571888
10.  A Developmentally Regulated Gene Cluster Involved in Conidial Pigment Biosynthesis in Aspergillus fumigatus 
Journal of Bacteriology  1999;181(20):6469-6477.
Aspergillus fumigatus, a filamentous fungus producing bluish-green conidia, is an important opportunistic pathogen that primarily affects immunocompromised patients. Conidial pigmentation of A. fumigatus significantly influences its virulence in a murine model. In the present study, six genes, forming a gene cluster spanning 19 kb, were identified as involved in conidial pigment biosynthesis in A. fumigatus. Northern blot analyses showed the six genes to be developmentally regulated and expressed during conidiation. The gene products of alb1 (for “albino 1”), arp1 (for “aspergillus reddish-pink 1”), and arp2 have high similarity to polyketide synthases, scytalone dehydratases, and hydroxynaphthalene reductases, respectively, found in the dihydroxynaphthalene (DHN)-melanin pathway of brown and black fungi. The abr1 gene (for “aspergillus brown 1”) encodes a putative protein possessing two signatures of multicopper oxidases. The abr2 gene product has homology to the laccase encoded by the yA gene of Aspergillus nidulans. The function of ayg1 (for “aspergillus yellowish-green 1”) remains unknown. Involvement of the six genes in conidial pigmentation was confirmed by the altered conidial color phenotypes that resulted from disruption of each gene in A. fumigatus. The presence of a DHN-melanin pathway in A. fumigatus was supported by the accumulation of scytalone and flaviolin in the arp1 deletant, whereas only flaviolin was accumulated in the arp2 deletants. Scytalone and flaviolin are well-known signature metabolites of the DHN-melanin pathway. Based on DNA sequence similarity, gene disruption results, and biochemical analyses, we conclude that the 19-kb DNA fragment contains a six-gene cluster which is required for conidial pigment biosynthesis in A. fumigatus. However, the presence of abr1, abr2, and ayg1 in addition to alb1, arp1, and arp2 suggests that conidial pigment biosynthesis in A. fumigatus is more complex than the known DHN-melanin pathway.
PMCID: PMC103784  PMID: 10515939
11.  Melanin Production by a Filamentous Soil Fungus in Response to Copper and Localization of Copper Sulfide by Sulfide-Silver Staining 
Gaeumannomyces graminis var. graminis, a filamentous soil ascomycete, exhibited enhanced cell wall melanin accumulation when exposed to as little as 0.01 mM CuSO(inf4) in minimal broth culture. Because its synthesis was inhibited by tricyclazole, the melanin produced in response to copper was dihydroxynaphthalene melanin. An additional hyphal cell wall layer was visualized by electron microscopy when hyphae were grown in the presence of copper and fixed by cryotechniques. This electron-dense layer was between the outer cell wall and the inner chitin layer and doubled the total wall thickness. In copper-grown cells that were also treated with tricyclazole, this electron-dense layer was absent. Atomic absorption spectroscopy demonstrated that up to 3.5 mg of Cu per g of fungal mycelium was adsorbed or taken up by hyphae grown in 0.06 mM CuSO(inf4). A method for silver enhancement was developed to determine the cellular location of CuS. CuS was present in cell walls and septa of copper-grown hyphae. Electron microscopy of silver-stained cells suggested that CuS was associated with the melanin layer of cell walls.
PMCID: PMC1388449  PMID: 16535031
12.  Gene cluster involved in melanin biosynthesis of the filamentous fungus Alternaria alternata. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1993;175(14):4427-4435.
The filamentous fungus Alternaria alternata produces melanin, a black pigment, from acetate via 1,8-dihydroxynaphthalene. To isolate a fungal gene required for melanin biosynthesis, we transformed an A. alternata Brm1- (light brown) mutant with the DNA of a wild-type strain genomic library constructed by use of a cosmid carrying the hygromycin B phosphotransferase gene. When hygromycin B-resistant transformants were screened for melanin production, 1 of 1,363 transformants appeared to regain melanin production, as judged by black pigmentation of the cultured mycelia. The cosmid, named pMBR1, was recovered by packaging nuclear DNA of the melanin-producing transformant into lambda phage. The gene on pMBR1 that enables the Brm1- mutant to produce melanin was designated BRM1. In addition to the BRM1 gene, pMBR1 was found to carry two more genes involved in melanin biosynthesis. These two genes, designated ALM and BRM2, transformed A. alternata Alm- (albino) and Brm2- (brown) mutants, respectively, to the wild-type phenotype. The three genes are located within a ca. 30-kb genomic region in the order ALM-BRM1-BRM2. Analysis of the gene transcripts indicated approximate sizes of 7.2, 4.0, and 0.9 kb for ALM, BRM1, and BRM2, respectively. The BRM1 and BRM2 transcripts are generated from the same strand, but the ALM transcript is generated from the opposite strand. The three mRNA species accumulate in cultured mycelia of the wild-type strain synchronously with mycelial melanization. The essential roles of the three genes in melanin biosynthesis were confirmed by transformation-mediated gene disruption experiments.
PMCID: PMC204883  PMID: 8392512
13.  Singlet Molecular Oxygen Generation by Light-Activated DHN-Melanin of the Fungal Pathogen Mycosphaerella fijiensis in Black Sigatoka Disease of Bananas 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91616.
In pathogenic fungi, melanin contributes to virulence, allowing tissue invasion and inactivation of the plant defence system, but has never been implicated as a factor for host cell death, or as a light-activated phytotoxin. Our research shows that melanin synthesized by the fungal banana pathogen Mycosphaerella fijiensis acts as a virulence factor through the photogeneration of singlet molecular oxygen O2 (1Δg). Using analytical tools, including elemental analysis, ultraviolet/infrared absorption spectrophometry and MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry analysis, we characterized both pigment content in mycelia and secreted to the culture media as 1,8-dihydroxynaphthalene (DHN)-melanin type compound. This is sole melanin-type in M. fijiensis. Isolated melanins irradiated with a Nd:YAG laser at 532 nm produced monomol light emission at 1270 nm, confirming generation of O2 (1Δg), a highly reactive oxygen specie (ROS) that causes cellular death by reacting with all cellular macromolecules. Intermediary polyketides accumulated in culture media by using tricyclazole and pyroquilon (two inhibitors of DHN-melanin synthesis) were identified by ESI-HPLC-MS/MS. Additionally, irradiation at 532 nm of that mixture of compounds and whole melanized mycelium also generated O2 (1Δg). A pigmented-strain generated more O2 (1Δg) than a strain with low melanin content. Banana leaves of cultivar Cavendish, naturally infected with different stages of black Sigatoka disease, were collected from field. Direct staining of the naturally infected leaf tissues showed the presence of melanin that was positively correlated to the disease stage. We also found hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) but we cannot distinguish the source. Our results suggest that O2 (1Δg) photogenerated by DHN-melanin may be involved in the destructive effects of Mycosphaerella fijiensis on banana leaf tissues. Further studies are needed to fully evaluate contributions of melanin-mediated ROS to microbial pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3960117  PMID: 24646830
14.  Characterization of a polyketide synthase in Aspergillus niger whose product is a precursor for both dihydroxynaphthalene (DHN) melanin and naphtho-γ-pyrone 
The genome sequencing of the fungus Aspergillus niger uncovered a large cache of genes encoding enzymes thought to be involved in the production of secondary metabolites yet to be identified. Identification and structural characterization of many of these predicted secondary metabolites are hampered by their low concentration relative to the known A. niger metabolites such as the naphtho-γ-pyrone family of polyketides. We deleted a nonreducing PKS gene in A. niger strain ATCC 11414, a daughter strain of A. niger ATCC strain 1015 whose genome was sequenced by the DOE Joint Genome Institute. This PKS encoding gene we name albA is a predicted ortholog of alb1 from Aspergillus fumigatus which is responsible for production of the naphtho-γ-pyrone precursor for the 1,8-dihydroxynaphthalene (DHN) melanin/spore pigment. Our results show that the A. nigeralbA PKS is responsible for both the production of the spore pigment precursor and a family of naphtho-γ-pyrones commonly found in significant quantity in A. niger culture extracts. The generation of an A. niger strain devoid of naphtho-γ-pyrones will greatly facilitate the elucidation of cryptic biosynthetic pathways in this organism.
PMCID: PMC3118676  PMID: 21176790
Secondary Metabolism; Aspergillus niger; Natural Products; Genomics; Naphtho-γ-pyrone; Polyketides
15.  Identification of the dehydrin gene family from grapevine species and analysis of their responsiveness to various forms of abiotic and biotic stress 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:140.
Dehydrins (DHNs) protect plant cells from desiccation damage during environmental stress, and also participate in host resistance to various pathogens. In this study, we aimed to identify and characterize the DHN gene families from Vitis vinifera and wild V. yeshanensis, which is tolerant to both drought and cold, and moderately resistant to powdery mildew.
Four DHN genes were identified in both V. vinifera and V. yeshanensis, which shared a high sequence identity between the two species but little homology between the genes themselves. These genes were designated DHN1, DHN2, DHN3 and DHN4. All four of the DHN proteins were highly hydrophilic and were predicted to be intrinsically disordered, but they differed in their isoelectric points, kinase selectivities and number of functional motifs. Also, the expression profiles of each gene differed appreciably from one another. Grapevine DHN1 was not expressed in vegetative tissues under normal growth conditions, but was induced by drought, cold, heat, embryogenesis, as well as the application of abscisic acid (ABA), salicylic acid (SA), and methyl jasmonate (MeJA). It was expressed earlier in V. yeshanensis under drought conditions than in V. vinifera, and also exhibited a second round of up-regulation in V. yeshanensis following inoculation with Erysiphe necator, which was not apparent in V. vinifera. Like DHN1, DHN2 was induced by cold, heat, embryogenesis and ABA; however, it exhibited no responsiveness to drought, E. necator infection, SA or MeJA, and was also expressed constitutively in vegetative tissues under normal growth conditions. Conversely, DHN3 was only expressed during seed development at extremely low levels, and DHN4 was expressed specifically during late embryogenesis. Neither DHN3 nor DHN4 exhibited responsiveness to any of the treatments carried out in this study. Interestingly, the presence of particular cis-elements within the promoter regions of each gene was positively correlated with their expression profiles.
The grapevine DHN family comprises four divergent members. While it is likely that their functions overlap to some extent, it seems that DHN1 provides the main stress-responsive function. In addition, our results suggest a close relationship between expression patterns, physicochemical properties, and cis-regulatory elements in the promoter regions of the DHN genes.
PMCID: PMC3460772  PMID: 22882870
Grapevine; Dehydrin; Stress-induced expression; Powdery mildew; Promoter
16.  Factors affecting phaeomelanin production by a melanin-producing (mel) mutant of Vibrio cholerae. 
Infection and Immunity  1981;34(3):895-899.
In a previous study we isolated melanin-producing (mel) mutants of Vibrio cholerae and demonstrated that production of melanin during growth on solid media was stimulated by L-tyrosine and L-cysteine. In the studies reported here we analyzed factors that affected melanin production in liquid media and determined the abilities of radioactively labeled amino acids to serve as precursors for the formation of melanin by V. cholerae. Radioactivity from L-cysteine and from L-tyrosine was preferentially incorporated into partially purified melanin, providing further evidence for production of phaeomelanin by V. cholerae. Cuprous ions stimulated production of melanin by V. cholerae in defined liquid medium, but melanin formation was inhibited by high concentrations of L-cysteine or thiouracil. The inhibition of melanin formation by sulfhydryl compounds is most likely due to their ability to bind copper ions that are essential for tyrosinase activity.
PMCID: PMC350953  PMID: 7333674
17.  Conidial Dihydroxynaphthalene Melanin of the Human Pathogenic Fungus Aspergillus fumigatus Interferes with the Host Endocytosis Pathway 
Aspergillus fumigatus is the most important air-borne fungal pathogen of humans. The interaction of the pathogen with the host's immune system represents a key process to understand pathogenicity. For elimination of invading microorganisms, they need to be efficiently phagocytosed and located in acidified phagolysosomes. However, as shown previously, A. fumigatus is able to manipulate the formation of functional phagolysosomes. Here, we demonstrate that in contrast to pigmentless pksP mutant conidia of A. fumigatus, the gray-green wild-type conidia inhibit the acidification of phagolysosomes of alveolar macrophages, monocyte-derived macrophages, and human neutrophil granulocytes. Therefore, this inhibition is independent of the cell type and applies to the major immune effector cells required for defense against A. fumigatus. Studies with melanin ghosts indicate that the inhibitory effect of wild-type conidia is due to their dihydroxynaphthalene (DHN)-melanin covering the conidia, whereas the hydrophobin RodA rodlet layer plays no role in this process. This is also supported by the observation that pksP conidia still exhibit the RodA hydrophobin layer, as shown by scanning electron microscopy. Mutants defective in different steps of the DHN-melanin biosynthesis showed stronger inhibition than pksP mutant conidia but lower inhibition than wild-type conidia. Moreover, A. fumigatus and A. flavus led to a stronger inhibition of phagolysosomal acidification than A. nidulans and A. terreus. These data indicate that a certain type of DHN-melanin that is different in the various Aspergillus species, is required for maximal inhibition of phagolysosomal acidification. Finally, we identified the vacuolar ATPase (vATPase) as potential target for A. fumigatus based on the finding that addition of bafilomycin which inhibits vATPase, led to complete inhibition of the acidification whereas the fusion of phagosomes containing wild-type conidia and lysosomes was not affected.
PMCID: PMC3128974  PMID: 21747802
Aspergillus fumigatus; endocytosis; melanin; neutrophils; macrophages; phagolysosome; virulence
18.  Mineral Supplementation Increases Erythrose Reductase Activity in Erythritol Biosynthesis from Glycerol by Yarrowia lipolytica 
The aim of this study was to examine the impact of divalent copper, iron, manganese, and zinc ions on the production of erythritol from glycerol by Yarrowia lipolytica and their effect on the activity of erythrose reductase. No inhibitory effect of the examined minerals on yeast growth was observed in the study. Supplementation with MnSO4·7H2O (25 mg l−1) increased erythritol production by Y. lipolytica by 14.5 %. In the bioreactor culture with manganese ion addition, 47.1 g l−1 of erythritol was produced from 100.0 g l−1 of glycerol, which corresponded to volumetric productivity of 0.87 g l−1 h−1. The addition of Mn2+ enhanced the intracellular activity of erythrose reductase up to 24.9 U g−1 of dry weight of biomass (DW), hence, about 1.3 times more than in the control.
PMCID: PMC3962577  PMID: 24488778
Erythritol; Erythrose reductase; Glycerol; Minerals; Yarrowia lipolytica
19.  Molecular cloning and biochemical characterization of a novel erythrose reductase from Candida magnoliae JH110 
Erythrose reductase (ER) catalyzes the final step of erythritol production, which is reducing erythrose to erythritol using NAD(P)H as a cofactor. ER has gained interest because of its importance in the production of erythritol, which has extremely low digestibility and approved safety for diabetics. Although ERs were purified and characterized from microbial sources, the entire primary structure and the corresponding DNA for ER still remain unknown in most of erythritol-producing yeasts. Candida magnoliae JH110 isolated from honeycombs produces a significant amount of erythritol, suggesting the presence of erythrose metabolizing enzymes. Here we provide the genetic sequence and functional characteristics of a novel NADPH-dependent ER from C. magnoliae JH110.
The gene encoding a novel ER was isolated from an osmophilic yeast C. magnoliae JH110. The ER gene composed of 849 nucleotides encodes a polypeptide with a calculated molecular mass of 31.4 kDa. The deduced amino acid sequence of ER showed a high degree of similarity to other members of the aldo-keto reductase superfamily including three ER isozymes from Trichosporonoides megachiliensis SNG-42. The intact coding region of ER from C. magnoliae JH110 was cloned, functionally expressed in Escherichia coli using a combined approach of gene fusion and molecular chaperone co-expression, and subsequently purified to homogeneity. The enzyme displayed a temperature and pH optimum at 42°C and 5.5, respectively. Among various aldoses, the C. magnoliae JH110 ER showed high specific activity for reduction of erythrose to the corresponding alcohol, erythritol. To explore the molecular basis of the catalysis of erythrose reduction with NADPH, homology structural modeling was performed. The result suggested that NADPH binding partners are completely conserved in the C. magnoliae JH110 ER. Furthermore, NADPH interacts with the side chains Lys252, Thr255, and Arg258, which could account for the enzyme's absolute requirement of NADPH over NADH.
A novel ER enzyme and its corresponding gene were isolated from C. magnoliae JH110. The C. magnoliae JH110 ER with high activity and catalytic efficiency would be very useful for in vitro erythritol production and could be applied for the production of erythritol in other microorganisms, which do not produce erythritol.
PMCID: PMC2902421  PMID: 20529366
20.  Purification and Characterization of a Novel Erythrose Reductase from Candida magnoliae 
Erythritol biosynthesis is catalyzed by erythrose reductase, which converts erythrose to erythritol. Erythrose reductase, however, has never been characterized in terms of amino acid sequence and kinetics. In this study, NAD(P)H-dependent erythrose reductase was purified to homogeneity from Candida magnoliae KFCC 11023 by ion exchange, gel filtration, affinity chromatography, and preparative electrophoresis. The molecular weights of erythrose reductase determined by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and gel filtration chromatography were 38,800 and 79,000, respectively, suggesting that the enzyme is homodimeric. Partial amino acid sequence analysis indicates that the enzyme is closely related to other yeast aldose reductases. C. magnoliae erythrose reductase catalyzes the reduction of various aldehydes. Among aldoses, erythrose was the preferred substrate (Km = 7.9 mM; kcat/Km = 0.73 mM−1 s−1). This enzyme had a dual coenzyme specificity with greater catalytic efficiency with NADH (kcat/Km = 450 mM−1 s−1) than with NADPH (kcat/Km = 5.5 mM−1 s−1), unlike previously characterized aldose reductases, and is specific for transferring the 4-pro-R hydrogen of NADH, which is typical of members of the aldo/keto reductase superfamily. Initial velocity and product inhibition studies are consistent with the hypothesis that the reduction proceeds via a sequential ordered mechanism. The enzyme required sulfhydryl compounds for optimal activity and was strongly inhibited by Cu2+ and quercetin, a strong aldose reductase inhibitor, but was not inhibited by aldehyde reductase inhibitors and did not catalyze the reduction of the substrates for carbonyl reductase. These data indicate that the C. magnoliae erythrose reductase is an NAD(P)H-dependent homodimeric aldose reductase with an unusual dual coenzyme specificity.
PMCID: PMC165123  PMID: 12839736
21.  Identification of biochemical pathways for the metabolism of oxidized low-density lipoprotein derived aldehyde-4-hydroxy trans-2-nonenal in vascular smooth muscle cells 
Atherosclerosis  2001;158(2):339-350.
Oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) generates high concentrations of unsaturated aldehydes, such as 4-hydroxy trans-2-nonenal (HNE). These aldehydes are mitogenic to vascular smooth muscle cells and sustain a vascular inflammation. Nevertheless, the processes that mediate and regulate the vascular metabolism of these aldehydes have not been examined. In this communication, we report the identification of the major metabolic pathways and products of [3H]-HNE in rat aortic smooth muscle cells in culture. High-performance liquid chromatography separation of the radioactivity recovered from these cells revealed that a large (60–65%) proportion of the metabolism was linked to glutathione (GSH). Electrospray mass spectrometry showed that glutathionyl-1,4 dihydroxynonene (GS-DHN) was the major metabolite of HNE in these cells. The formation of GS-DHN appears to be due aldose reductase (AR)-catalyzed reduction of glutathionyl 4-hydroxynonanal (GS-HNE), since inhibitors of AR (tolrestat or sorbinil) prevented GS-DHN formation, and increased the fraction of the glutathione conjugate remaining as GS-HNE. Gas chromatography–chemical ionization mass spectroscopy of the metabolites identified a subsidiary route of HNE metabolism leading to the formation of 4-hydroxynonanoic acid (HNA). Oxidation to HNA accounted for 25–30% of HNE metabolism. The formation of HNA was inhibited by cyanamide, indicating that the acid is derived from an aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH)-catalyzed pathway. The overall rate of HNE metabolism was insensitive to inhibition of AR or ALDH, although inhibition of HNA formation by cyanamide led to a corresponding increase in the fraction of HNE metabolized by the GSH-linked pathway, indicating that ALDH-catalyzed oxidation competes with glutathione conjugation. These metabolic pathways may be the key regulators of the vascular effects of HNE and oxidized LDL.
PMCID: PMC3469324  PMID: 11583712
Lipid peroxidation; 4-Hydroxy-trans-2-nonenal; Glutathione conjugates; Aldose reductase; Vascular smooth muscle cells; Atherosclerosis
22.  Isolation and characterization of a factor from calf serum that promotes the pigmentation of embryonic and transformed melanocytes 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1985;100(5):1493-1498.
A protein (Mr = 63,000) from calf serum that promotes the pigmentation of cultured chick neural crest and mouse melanoma cells has been partially isolated and characterized in this study. The stimulation of melanin synthesis in cultured cells was used to follow its activity during purification. The pigment-promoting factor was isolated by sequential column chromatography on dye-agarose matrices followed by hydroxyapatite and high pressure molecular sieve chromatography. The factor was found to stimulate melanin biosynthesis at 2-4 micrograms/ml and was specific for melanin-producing cells and their precursors. Antibodies raised in rabbits against the factor inhibited its pigment- promoting activity as well as that of whole calf serum. Enzyme-linked immunoadsorbent assays demonstrated that calf and bovine sera contain molecules that cross-react with the pigment-promoting factor. Horse, human, rat, and chicken sera, which lack the biological activity, also lacked immunological cross-reactivity. Extracts of certain tissues, particularly the submaxillary gland, were observed to be rich sources of pigment-promoting activity.
PMCID: PMC2113885  PMID: 3988796
23.  Erythritol Metabolism in Wild-Type and Mutant Strains of Schizophyllum commune 
Journal of Bacteriology  1969;100(2):625-634.
Erythritol uptake and metabolism were compared in wild-type mycelium and a dome morphological mutant of the wood-rotting mushroom Schizophyllum commune. Wild-type mycelium utilized glucose, certain hexitols, and pentitols including ribitol, as well as d-erythrose, erythritol, and glycerol as sole carbon sources for growth. The dome mutant utilized all of these compounds except d-erythrose and erythritol. Erythritol- or glycerol-grown wild-type mycelium incorporated erythritol into various cellular constituents, whereas glucose-grown cells lagged considerably before initiation of erythritol uptake. This acquisition was inhibited by cycloheximide. Dome mycelium showed behavior similar to wild-type in uptake of erythritol after growth on glucose or glycerol, except that erythritol was not further catabolized. Enzymes of carbohydrate metabolism were compared in cell extracts of glucose-cultured wild-type mycelium and dome. Enzymes of hexose monophosphate catabolism, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD)-dependent sugar alcohol dehydrogenases, and reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH)-coupled erythrose reductase were demonstrated in both. The occurrence of erythrose reductase was unaffected by the nature of the growth carbon source, showed optimal activity at pH 7, and generated NAD phosphate and erythritol as products of the reaction. Glycerol-, d-erythrose-, or erythritol-grown wild-type mycelium contained an NAD-dependent erythritol dehydrogenase absent in glucose cells. Erythritol dehydrogenase activity was optimal at pH 8.8 and produced erythrulose during NAD reduction. Glycerol-growth of dome mycelium induced the erythritol uptake system, but a functional erythritol dehydrogenase could not be demonstrated. Neither wild-type nor dome mycelium produced erythritol dehydrogenase during growth on ribitol. Erythritol metabolism in wild-type cells of S. commune, therefore, involves an NADPH-dependent reduction of d-erythrose to produce erythritol, followed by induction of an NAD-coupled erythritol dehydrogenase to form erythrulose. A deficiency in erythritol dehydrogenase rather than permeability barriers explains why dome cannot employ erythritol as sole carbon source for mycelial growth.
PMCID: PMC250136  PMID: 4390964
24.  Production of Pyomelanin, a Second Type of Melanin, via the Tyrosine Degradation Pathway in Aspergillus fumigatus▿  
Aspergillus fumigatus is the most important airborne fungal pathogen of immunosuppressed humans. A. fumigatus is able to produce dihydroxynaphthalene melanin, which is predominantly present in the conidia. Its biosynthesis is an important virulence determinant. Here, we show that A. fumigatus is able to produce an alternative melanin, i.e., pyomelanin, by a different pathway, starting from l-tyrosine. Proteome analysis indicated that the l-tyrosine degradation enzymes are synthesized when the fungus is grown with l-tyrosine in the medium. To investigate the pathway in detail, we deleted the genes encoding essential enzymes for pigment production, homogentisate dioxygenase (hmgA) and 4-hydroxyphenylpyruvate dioxygenase (hppD). Comparative Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy of synthetic pyomelanin and pigment extracted from A. fumigatus cultures confirmed the identity of the observed pigment as pyomelanin. In the hmgA deletion strain, HmgA activity was abolished and the accumulation of homogentisic acid provoked an increased pigment formation. In contrast, homogentisic acid and pyomelanin were not observed with an hppD deletion mutant. Germlings of the hppD deletion mutant showed an increased sensitivity to reactive oxygen intermediates. The transcription of both studied genes was induced by l-tyrosine. These results confirmed the function of the deleted genes and the predicted pathway in A. fumigatus. Homogentisic acid is the major intermediate, and the l-tyrosine degradation pathway leading to pyomelanin is similar to that in humans leading to alkaptomelanin.
PMCID: PMC2620705  PMID: 19028908
25.  Pathway and regulation of erythritol formation in Leuconostoc oenos. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1993;175(13):3941-3948.
It was recently observed that Leuconostoc oenos GM, a wine lactic acid bacterium, produced erythritol anaerobically from glucose but not from fructose or ribose and that this production was almost absent in the presence of O2. In this study, the pathway of formation of erythritol from glucose in L. oenos was shown to involve the isomerization of glucose 6-phosphate to fructose 6-phosphate by a phosphoglucose isomerase, the cleavage of fructose 6-phosphate by a phosphoketolase, the reduction of erythrose 4-phosphate by an erythritol 4-phosphate dehydrogenase and, finally, the hydrolysis of erythritol 4-phosphate to erythritol by a phosphatase. Fructose 6-phosphate phosphoketolase was copurified with xylulose 5-phosphate phosphoketolase, and the activity of the latter was competitively inhibited by fructose 6-phosphate, with a Ki of 26 mM, corresponding to the Km of fructose 6-phosphate phosphoketolase (22 mM). These results suggest that the two phosphoketolase activities are borne by a single enzyme. Extracts of L. oenos were also found to contain NAD(P)H oxidase, which must be largely responsible for the reoxidation of NADPH and NADH in cells incubated in the presence of O2. In cells incubated with glucose, the concentrations of glucose 6-phosphate and of fructose 6-phosphate were higher in the absence of O2 than in its presence, explaining the stimulation by anaerobiosis of erythritol production. The increase in the hexose 6-phosphate concentration is presumably the result of a functional inhibition of glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase because of a reduction in the availability of NADP.
PMCID: PMC204821  PMID: 8391532

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