Itaconic acid is an unsaturated dicarbonic acid which has a high potential as a biochemical building block, because it can be used as a monomer for the production of a plethora of products including resins, plastics, paints, and synthetic fibers. Some Aspergillus species, like A. itaconicus and A. terreus, show the ability to synthesize this organic acid and A. terreus can secrete significant amounts to the media (>80 g/L). However, compared with the citric acid production process (titers >200 g/L) the achieved titers are still low and the overall process is expensive because purified substrates are required for optimal productivity. Itaconate is formed by the enzymatic activity of a cis-aconitate decarboxylase (CadA) encoded by the cadA gene in A. terreus. Cloning of the cadA gene into the citric acid producing fungus A. niger showed that it is possible to produce itaconic acid also in a different host organism. This review will describe the current status and recent advances in the understanding of the molecular processes leading to the biotechnological production of itaconic acid.
cis-aconitic acid decarboxylase; Aspergillus terreus; Aspergillus niger; metabolic engineering; biochemical pathways; microbial organic acid production; industrial microbiology
Itaconate biosynthesis was studied in intact cells of high-yield (RC4') and low-yield (CM85J) strains of the fungus Aspergillus terreus by methods (tracers, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and mass spectroscopy) that did not interfere with metabolism. Itaconate formation in RC4' required de novo protein biosynthesis. Krebs cycle intermediates increased in both strains during the production of itaconic acid. The Embden-Meyerhof-Parnas pathway and the Krebs cycle were shown to be involved in this biosynthesis by using 14C- and 13C-labelled substrates and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. A metabolic pathway for itaconate formation from glucose in A. terreus is proposed.
Aspergillus niger forms aerial hyphae and conidiophores after a period of vegetative growth. The hyphae within the mycelium of A. niger are divided by septa. The central pore in these septa allows for cytoplasmic streaming. Here, we studied inter- and intra-compartmental streaming of the reporter protein GFP in A. niger. Expression of the gene encoding nuclear targeted GFP from the gpdA or glaA promoter resulted in strong fluorescence of nuclei within the vegetative hyphae and weak fluorescence in nuclei within the aerial structures. These data and nuclear run on experiments showed that gpdA and glaA are higher expressed in the vegetative mycelium when compared to aerial hyphae, conidiophores and conidia. Notably, gpdA or glaA driven expression of the gene encoding cytosolic GFP resulted in strongly fluorescent vegetative hyphae and aerial structures. Apparently, GFP streams from vegetative hyphae into aerial structures. This was confirmed by monitoring fluorescence of photo-activatable GFP (PA-GFP). In contrast, PA-GFP did not stream from aerial structures to vegetative hyphae. Streaming of PA-GFP within vegetative hyphae or within aerial structures of A. niger occurred at a rate of 10–15 μm s-1. Taken together, these results not only show that GFP streams from the vegetative mycelium to aerial structures but it also indicates that its encoding RNA is not streaming. Absence of RNA streaming would explain why distinct RNA profiles were found in aerial structures and the vegetative mycelium by nuclear run on analysis and micro-array analysis.
aerial hypha; Aspergillus; conidia; conidiophore; cytoplasmic streaming; development; fungus; vegetative mycelium
Aspergillopepsin B was identified in culture broths of Aspergillus awamori by in situ detection of its proteolytic activity and by immunodetection with anti-aspergillopepsin B antibodies. Severe thaumatin degradation was observed after in vitro treatment of thaumatin with purified aspergillopepsin B. The pepB gene encoding aspergillopepsin B of A. awamori was cloned and characterized. It is located in chromosome IV of A. awamori, as shown by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, and encodes a protein of 282 amino acids with high similarity to the aspergillopepsin B of Aspergillus niger var. macrosporus. The pepB gene is expressed at high rates as a monocistronic 1.0-kb transcript in media with casein at acidic pH values. An antisense cassette constructed by inserting the pepB gene in the antisense orientation downstream from the gpdA promoter resulted in a good level of antisense mRNA, as shown by reverse transcription-PCR. Partial silencing of the pepB gene by the antisense mRNA resulted in a 31% increase in thaumatin yield. However, significant residual degradation of thaumatin still occurred. To completely remove aspergillopepsin B, the pepB gene was deleted by double crossover. Two of the selected transformants lacked the endogenous pepB gene and did not form aspergillopepsin B. Thaumatin yields increased by between 45% in transformant APB 7/25 and 125% in transformant 7/36 with respect to the parental strain. Reduction of proteolytic degradation by gene silencing with antisense mRNA or total removal of the aspergillopepsin B by directed gene deletion was a very useful method for improving thaumatin production in A. awamori.
A genome-scale metabolic network and an in-depth genomic comparison of Aspergillus niger with seven other fungi is presented, revealing more than 1,100 enzyme-coding genes that are unique to A. niger.
Aspergillus niger is an important industrial microorganism for the production of both metabolites, such as citric acid, and proteins, such as fungal enzymes or heterologous proteins. Despite its extensive industrial applications, the genetic inventory of this fungus is only partially understood. The recently released genome sequence opens a new horizon for both scientific studies and biotechnological applications.
Here, we present the first genome-scale metabolic network for A. niger and an in-depth genomic comparison of this species to seven other fungi to disclose its metabolic peculiarities. The raw genomic sequences of A. niger ATCC 9029 were first annotated. The reconstructed metabolic network is based on the annotation of two A. niger genomes, CBS 513.88 and ATCC 9029, including enzymes with 988 unique EC numbers, 2,443 reactions and 2,349 metabolites. More than 1,100 enzyme-coding genes are unique to A. niger in comparison to the other seven fungi. For example, we identified additional copies of genes such as those encoding alternative mitochondrial oxidoreductase and citrate synthase in A. niger, which might contribute to the high citric acid production efficiency of this species. Moreover, nine genes were identified as encoding enzymes with EC numbers exclusively found in A. niger, mostly involved in the biosynthesis of complex secondary metabolites and degradation of aromatic compounds.
The genome-level reconstruction of the metabolic network and genome-based metabolic comparison disclose peculiarities of A. niger highly relevant to its biotechnological applications and should contribute to future rational metabolic design and systems biology studies of this black mold and related species.
A differentially expressed gpdA cDNA clone was isolated from NaCl-adapted Aspergillus nidulans (FGSC359) and identified as glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (gpdA) on the basis of its nucleotide sequence. The level of gpdA RNA substantially increased in cultures gradually adapted to NaCl but was greatly reduced in cultures exposed briefly to a high concentration of NaCl. A pyrG auxotroph of A. nidulans (A773) was cotransformed with a gpdA-uidA construct and a plasmid containing the Neurospora crassa pyr4 gene as a selectable marker. One pyrG+ β-glucuronidase-positive (GUS+) transformant was selected, and stable integration of the gpdA-uidA construct into the genome was confirmed by Southern blot analysis. Gradual adaptation to increasing concentrations of NaCl resulted in an increase in GUS activity to 2.7-fold. GUS activity was reduced after a 2-h exposure of an unadapted culture to 2 M NaCl but gradually increased to a maximum of twofold after 24 h. GUS activity also increased by 8.4-fold in Na2SO4-adapted cultures, 4.9-fold in polyethylene glycol-adapted cultures, and 7.5-fold in KCl-adapted cultures. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that the A. nidulans gpdA promoter is transcriptionally activated by osmotic signals.
Filamentous fungi such as Aspergillus niger are well known for their exceptionally high capacity for secretion of proteins, organic acids, and secondary metabolites and they are therefore used in biotechnology as versatile microbial production platforms. However, system-wide insights into their metabolic and secretory capacities are sparse and rational strain improvement approaches are therefore limited. In order to gain a genome-wide view on the transcriptional regulation of the protein secretory pathway of A. niger, we investigated the transcriptome of A. niger when it was forced to overexpression the glaA gene (encoding glucoamylase, GlaA) and secrete GlaA to high level.
An A. niger wild-type strain and a GlaA over-expressing strain, containing multiple copies of the glaA gene, were cultivated under maltose-limited chemostat conditions (specific growth rate 0.1 h-1). Elevated glaA mRNA and extracellular GlaA levels in the over-expressing strain were accompanied by elevated transcript levels from 772 genes and lowered transcript levels from 815 genes when compared to the wild-type strain. Using GO term enrichment analysis, four higher-order categories were identified in the up-regulated gene set: i) endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membrane translocation, ii) protein glycosylation, iii) vesicle transport, and iv) ion homeostasis. Among these, about 130 genes had predicted functions for the passage of proteins through the ER and those genes included target genes of the HacA transcription factor that mediates the unfolded protein response (UPR), e.g. bipA, clxA, prpA, tigA and pdiA. In order to identify those genes that are important for high-level secretion of proteins by A. niger, we compared the transcriptome of the GlaA overexpression strain of A. niger with six other relevant transcriptomes of A. niger. Overall, 40 genes were found to have either elevated (from 36 genes) or lowered (from 4 genes) transcript levels under all conditions that were examined, thus defining the core set of genes important for ensuring high protein traffic through the secretory pathway.
We have defined the A. niger genes that respond to elevated secretion of GlaA and, furthermore, we have defined a core set of genes that appear to be involved more generally in the intensified traffic of proteins through the secretory pathway of A. niger. The consistent up-regulation of a gene encoding the acetyl-coenzyme A transporter suggests a possible role for transient acetylation to ensure correct folding of secreted proteins.
Aspergillus niger; Protein expression; Secretion; HacA; Unfolded protein response; Endoplasmic reticulum; Glucoamylase; Transcriptome
The possible use of cotton waste as a carbohydrate source of citric acid production by Aspergillus niger was examined. No citric acid was produced when A. niger was grown on cotton waste as a sole carbon source. In two-stage fermentations, however, mycelium obtained from surface cultures in cotton waste medium yielded more citric acid when transferred to sucrose-containing media than when directly inoculated to sucrose-containing media. It is concluded that cotton waste can be used for saving sucrose and for increasing yields of citric acid fermentation by A. niger.
Itaconic acid, or methylenesuccinic acid, is not generally classified as a mammalian metabolite. Using NMR based metabolomics and 13C-labeling, we have detected itaconic acid in both macrophage-like VM-M3 and RAW 264.7 tumor cell lines as well as stimulated and unstimulated primary murine macrophages. Macrophage activation by addition of lipopolysaccharide and IFN-γ markedly increased itaconic acid production and secretion. Crude cell extracts synthesize itaconic acid via decarboxylation of cis-aconitate, indicative of a novel mammalian cis-aconitic decarboxylase activity. Our results highlight a previously unidentified biosynthetic pathway related to TCA cycle metabolism in mammalian cells and a novel metabolite that likely plays a role in macrophage-based immune response.
metabolomics; NMR; LC-MS; itaconic acid; tumor cells; macrophages
Citric acid (CA) is the most important commercial product which is produced by using various sugar substrates in the terrestrial environment. The present study made an attempt to produce citric acid by the fungal strain Aspergillus niger from red seaweed Gelidiella acerosa is the best alternative to sugar substrate in the marine environment. In this study three types of production media were prepared including control (sucrose) by following standard fermentation conditions. The acid production was indicated by the reduction of pH levels. The control medium gave the highest yield of 80 g/l at pH 1.5 and the medium containing crude seaweed powder and other compositions gave the yield of 30 g/l at pH 3.5 whereas the medium containing crude seaweed and 10% sucrose gave the yield of 50 g/l at pH 3.0. When calculating the benefit cost ratio, crude seaweed powder and 10% sucrose yielded 50 g of citric acid at the lower cost of Rs. 35, whereas the other two media gave the yield of 80 and 30 g respectively with the cost of Rs. 77 and 28. In economic point of view, the medium containing seaweed and 10% sucrose showed more benefit with lower cost.
Gelidiella acerosa; Citric acid; Aspergillus niger; Fermentation; Seaweed
Aspergillus niger is a filamentous fungus found in the environment, on foods and feeds and is used as host for production of organic acids, enzymes and proteins. The mycotoxin fumonisin B2 was recently found to be produced by A. niger and hence very little is known about production and regulation of this metabolite. Proteome analysis was used with the purpose to reveal how fumonisin B2 production by A. niger is influenced by starch and lactate in the medium.
Fumonisin B2 production by A. niger was significantly increased when lactate and starch were combined in the medium. Production of a few other A. niger secondary metabolites was affected similarly by lactate and starch (fumonisin B4, orlandin, desmethylkotanin and pyranonigrin A), while production of others was not (ochratoxin A, ochratoxin alpha, malformin A, malformin C, kotanin, aurasperone B and tensidol B). The proteome of A. niger was clearly different during growth on media containing 3% starch, 3% starch + 3% lactate or 3% lactate. The identity of 59 spots was obtained, mainly those showing higher or lower expression levels on medium with starch and lactate. Many of them were enzymes in primary metabolism and other processes that affect the intracellular level of acetyl-CoA or NADPH. This included enzymes in the pentose phosphate pathway, pyruvate metabolism, the tricarboxylic acid cycle, ammonium assimilation, fatty acid biosynthesis and oxidative stress protection.
Lactate added in a medium containing nitrate and starch can increase fumonisin B2 production by A. niger as well as production of some other secondary metabolites. Changes in the balance of intracellular metabolites towards a higher level of carbon passing through acetyl-CoA and a high capacity to regenerate NADPH during growth on medium with starch and lactate were found to be the likely cause of this effect. The results lead to the hypothesis that fumonisin production by A. niger is regulated by acetyl-CoA.
The morphology of citric acid production strains of Aspergillus niger is sensitive to a variety of factors, including the concentration of manganese (Mn2+). Upon increasing the Mn2+ concentration in A. niger (ATCC 11414) cultures to 14 ppb or higher, the morphology switches from pelleted to filamentous, accompanied by a rapid decline in citric acid production. The molecular mechanisms through which Mn2+ exerts effects on morphology and citric acid production in A. niger cultures have not been well defined, but our use of suppression subtractive hybridization has identified 22 genes responsive to Mn2+. Fifteen genes were differentially expressed when A. niger was grown in media containing 1,000 ppb of Mn2+ (filamentous form), and seven genes were expressed in 10 ppb of Mn2+ (pelleted form). Of the 15 filament-associated genes, seven are novel and eight share 47 to 100% identity with genes from other organisms. Five of the pellet-associated genes are novel, and the other two genes encode a pepsin-type protease and polyubiquitin. All 10 genes with deduced functions are either involved in amino acid metabolism-protein catabolism or cell regulatory processes. Northern blot analysis showed that the transcripts of all 22 genes were rapidly enhanced or suppressed by Mn2+. Steady-state mRNA levels of six selected filament-associated genes remained high during 5 days of culture in a filamentous state and remained low under pelleted growth conditions. The opposite behavior was observed for four selected pellet-associated genes. The full-length cDNA of the filament-associated clone, Brsa-25, was isolated. Antisense expression of Brsa-25 permitted pelleted growth and increased citrate production at concentrations of Mn2+ that were higher than the parent strain could tolerate. These results suggest the involvement of the newly isolated genes in the regulation of A. niger morphology.
The aim of this study was to find a reliable method for the detection and identification of fungi in fungus balls of the maxillary sinus and to evaluate the spectrum of fungi in these samples. One hundred twelve samples were obtained from patients with histologically proven fungal infections; 81 samples were paraffin-embedded tissue sections of the maxillary sinus. In 31 cases, sinus contents without paraffin embedding were sent for investigation. PCR amplification with universal fungal primers for 28S ribosomal DNA and amplicon identification by hybridization with species-specific probes for Aspergillus fumigatus, Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus niger, Aspergillus terreus, Aspergillus glaucus, Pseudallescheria boydii, Candida albicans, and Candida glabrata were performed for all samples. Furthermore, PCR products were sequenced. Fresh samples were also cultivated. Fungal DNA was detected in all of the fresh samples but only in 71 paraffin-embedded tissue samples (87.7%). Sequence analysis was the most sensitive technique, as results could be obtained for 28 (90.3%) fresh samples by this method in comparison to 24 (77.4%) samples by hybridization and 16 (51.6%) samples by culture. However, sequence analysis delivered a result for only 36 (50.7%) of the paraffin-embedded specimens. Hybridization showed reliable results for A. fumigatus, which proved to be the most common agent in fungus balls of the maxillary sinus. Other Aspergillus species and other genera were rarely found.
Seventy-three fungal species belonging to forty-three genera were isolated from 40 samples of Saccharrum officinarum (collected from Naage-Hamadi canal in Qena Governorate, Egypt). Aspergillus, Trichoderma, Mucor and Pythium were the most common genera on the two isolation media. The dominant species of Aspergillus were A. niger, A. flavus, A. ustus, A. terreus and A. wentii. Some species were dominant on 40 g/l sucrose such as Aspergillus niger, A. flavus, Emericella nidulans, Trichoderma viride, Torula herbarum and Mamaria echinoeotryoides, while the dominant species on 10 g/l glucose were Mucor circinelloides, Aspergillus niger, Torula herbarum and Trichoderma viride. Mycotoxins including aflatoxins B1, B2, G1 and G2, zearalenone and diacetoxyscirpenol were detected in the examined samples of Saccharrum officinarum. The mycelial growth of A. flavus, A. niger, Fusarium moniliforme and Torula herbarum decreased with the increase in Dimethoate concentrations, although 25 ppm was less effective than the higher levels of the insecticide (75~200 ppm). Dimethoate stimulated the activity of Go-T in A. niger, F. moniliforme and T. harbarum, while the Go-T activity was inhibited in A. flavus with the Dimethoate treatments.
Aquatic and terrestrial fungi; Mycotoxin production; Saccharrum officinarum
Holocellulose structures from agro-industrial residues rely on main and side chain attacking enzymes with different specificities for complete hydrolysis. Combinations of crude enzymatic extracts from different fungal species, including Aspergillus terreus, Aspergillus oryzae, Aspergillus niger and Trichoderma longibrachiatum, were applied to sugar cane bagasse, banana stem and dirty cotton residue to investigate the hydrolysis of holocellulose structures. A. terreus and A. oryzae were the best producers of FPase and xylanase activities. A combination of A. terreus and A. oryzae extracts in a 50% proportion provided optimal hydrolysis of dirty cotton residue and banana stem. For the hydrolysis of sugar cane bagasse, the best results were obtained with samples only containing A. terreus crude extract.
agricultural waste; enzymatic mixtures; hydrolysis
Zinc was extracted from a filter residue of a copper works (58.6% zinc) by a Penicillium sp. isolated from a metal-containing location. By isotachophoresis citric acid was identified as the leaching agent. Citrate was only formed when the leaching substrate was present. This production of citrate was different in several ways from that achieved by Aspergillus niger: glucose was utilized before fructose; the initial concentration of zinc was 50 to 500 times higher than usual in citrate fermentations with A. niger; citrate production stopped when 80 to 90% of the zinc was leached, although sufficient sugar for further synthesis was still present; and in synthetic media citrate production by A. niger needs an acidic environment (pH 2), while the formation of citric acid by Penicillium sp. occurred in a pH range of 7 to 4. Tests with different concentrations of waste material (0.5, 2.5, and 5%) showed that the highest yield of solubilized zinc occurred with a 2.5% substrate (93% zinc extracted after 13 days).
Forty-one fungal species belonging to 15 fungal genera isolated from Egyptian soil and sugar cane waste samples were tested for their capacity of producing acidity and gluconic acid. For the tests, the fungi were grown on glucose substrate and culture filtrates were examined using paper chromatography analysis. Most of the tested fungi have a relative wide potentiality for total acid production in their filtrates. Nearly 51% of them showed their ability of producing gluconic acid. Aspergillus niger was distinguishable from other species by its capacity to produce substantial amounts of gluconic acid when it was cultivated on a selective medium. The optimized cultural conditions for gluconic acid yields were using submerged culture at 30℃ at initial pH 6.0 for 7 days of incubation. Among the various concentrations of substrate used, glucose (14%, w/v) was found to be the most suitable carbon source for maximal gluconic acid during fermentation. Maximum values of fungal biomass (10.02 g/l) and gluconic acid (58.46 g/l) were obtained when the fungus was grown with 1% peptone as sole nitrogen source. Influence of the concentration of some inorganic salts as well as the rate of aeration on the gluconic acid and biomass production is also described.
Gluconic acid production; Aspergillus niger; acidity
The dimorphic phycomycete Mucor racemosus was grown in media containing acetate, glutamate, and peptone as carbon sources. The component enzymes of the glyoxylate bypass, isocitrate lyase and malate synthase, were present under these conditions throughout the growth cycles. Highest specific activities for each enzyme were found in media with acetate as the carbon source. In an enriched peptone medium containing glucose, neither activity was detected until glucose was exhausted from the medium. Treatment of acetate-grown cells with glucose resulted in a rapid decline in the specific activities of both enzymes. The importance of this cycle in acetate-grown cells was indicated by the ability of itaconic acid (100 mM) to inhibit the growth of M. racemosus in acetate but not glutamate media. Itaconate was also shown to be a potent inhibitor of isocitrate lyase activity in vitro.
Martin, William R. (University of Chicago, Chicago, Ill.), Frank Frigan, and Edna H. Bergman. Noninductive metabolism of itaconic acid by Pseudomonas and Salmonella species. J. Bacteriol. 82:905–908. 1961—Ten molds, three yeasts, and 44 bacteria were screened for the noninductive metabolism of itaconic acid by growing in complete media containing traces of C14-labeled itaconic acid. Several Salmonella and Pseudomonas species incorporated significant quantities of radioactivity into their cellular components. The enzymatic conversion of itaconic acid to citramalic acid was demonstrated in cell-free extracts from both P. aeruginosa and S. chittagong.
We report the cloning and characterization of a gene encoding a ferulic acid esterase, faeA, from Aspergillus niger and Aspergillus tubingensis. The A. niger and A. tubingensis genes have a high degree of sequence identity and contain one conserved intron. The gene product, FAEA, was overexpressed in wild-type A. tubingensis and a protease-deficient A. niger mutant. Overexpression of both genes in wild-type A. tubingensis and an A. niger protease-deficient mutant showed that the A. tubingensis gene product is more sensitive to degradation than the equivalent gene product from A. niger. FAEA from A. niger was identical to A. niger FAE-III (C. B. Faulds and G. Williamson, Microbiology 140:779-787, 1994), as assessed by molecular mass, pH and temperature optima, pI, N-terminal sequence, and activity on methyl ferulate. The faeA gene was induced by growth on wheat arabinoxylan and sugar beet pectin, and its gene product (FAEA) released ferulic acid from wheat arabinoxylan. The rate of release was enhanced by the presence of a xylanase. FAEA also hydrolyzed smaller amounts of ferulic acid from sugar beet pectin, but the rate was hardly affected by addition of an endo-pectin lyase.
Systems modeling of Aspergillus niger under different pH conditions reveals novel pH-regulated metabolic genes and signaling genes in the pal/pacC pathway.
The filamentous fungus Aspergillus niger is an exceptionally efficient producer of organic acids, which is one of the reasons for its relevance to industrial processes and commercial importance. While it is known that the mechanisms regulating this production are tied to the levels of ambient pH, the reasons and mechanisms for this are poorly understood.
To cast light on the connection between extracellular pH and acid production, we integrate results from two genome-based strategies: A novel method of genome-scale modeling of the response, and transcriptome analysis across three levels of pH.
With genome scale modeling with an optimization for extracellular proton-production, it was possible to reproduce the preferred pH levels for citrate and oxalate. Transcriptome analysis and clustering expanded upon these results and allowed the identification of 162 clusters with distinct transcription patterns across the different pH-levels examined. New and previously described pH-dependent cis-acting promoter elements were identified. Combining transcriptome data with genomic coordinates identified four pH-regulated secondary metabolite gene clusters. Integration of regulatory profiles with functional genomics led to the identification of candidate genes for all steps of the pal/pacC pH signalling pathway.
The combination of genome-scale modeling with comparative genomics and transcriptome analysis has provided systems-wide insights into the evolution of highly efficient acidification as well as production process applicable knowledge on the transcriptional regulation of pH response in the industrially important A. niger. It has also made clear that filamentous fungi have evolved to employ several offensive strategies for out-competing rival organisms.
Mannoproteins are important and abundant structural components of fungal cell walls. The AFMP1 gene encodes a cell wall galactomannoprotein of Aspergillus fumigatus. In the present study, we show that Afmp1p is secreted into the cell culture supernatant at a level that can be detected by Western blotting. A sensitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) developed with antibodies against Afmp1p was capable of detecting this protein from the cell culture supernatant of A. fumigatus. The anti-Afmp1p antibody is specific since it fails to react with any protein from lysates of Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus niger, Aspergillus terreus, Penicillium marneffei, Candida albicans, Cryptococcus neoformans, Blastomyces dermatitidis, and Histoplasma capsulatum by Western blotting. In addition, this Afmp1p antigen-based ELISA is also specific for A. fumigatus since the cell culture supernatants of the other eight fungi gave negative results. Finally, a clinical evaluation of sera from invasive aspergillosis patients indicates that 8 of 15 (53%) patients are Afmp1p antigen test positive. Furthermore, an Afmp1p antibody test was performed with these serum specimens. The combined antibody and antigen tests for invasive aspergillosis carry a sensitivity of 86.7% (13 of 15). The specificities of the tests are high since none of the 138 control sera, including 100 from normal blood donors, 20 from patients with penicilliosis marneffei, 6 from patients with candidemia, 8 from patients with typhoid fever, and 4 from patients with melioidosis, was positive by either test. In conclusion, the combined Afmp1p antibody and antigen tests are highly sensitive and specific for A. fumigatus invasive aspergillosis.
We have established the presence of a circadian clock in Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus nidulans by morphological and molecular assays, respectively. In A. flavus, the clock regulates an easily assayable rhythm in the development of sclerotia, which are large survival structures produced by many fungi. This developmental rhythm exhibits all of the principal clock properties. The rhythm is maintained in constant environmental conditions with a period of 33 h at 30°C, it can be entrained by environmental signals, and it is temperature compensated. This endogenous 33-h period is one of the longest natural circadian rhythms reported for any organism, and this likely contributes to some unique responses of the clock to environmental signals. In A. nidulans, no obvious rhythms in development are apparent. However, a free running and entrainable rhythm in the accumulation of gpdA mRNA (encoding glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase) is observed, suggesting the presence of a circadian clock in this species. We are unable to identify an Aspergillus ortholog of frequency, a gene required for normal circadian rhythmicity in Neurospora crassa. Together, our data indicate the existence of an Aspergillus circadian clock, which has properties that differ from that of the well-described clock of N. crassa.
A spontaneous rise in intracellular cyclic AMP (cAMP) levels was observed in the early stages of Aspergillus niger growth under conditions yielding large amounts of citric acid. The amount of cAMP formed was found to depend on the initial concentration of sucrose in the medium. Under higher-sucrose conditions, the cAMP peak appeared earlier and was higher, while in lower-sucrose media a flattened peak was observed later in fermentation. Since in media with higher concentrations of sucrose intracellular citric acid starts to accumulate earlier and more rapidly, cAMP synthesis may be triggered by intracellular acidification, which is caused by the dissociation of citric acid. No spontaneous increase in cAMP concentrations could be detected when the cells were grown in continuously illuminated cultures, suggesting that A. niger phosphodiesterase (PDE) is photoregulated. More evidence for the activation of PDE by light was obtained from morphological studies under light and dark conditions in the presence of cAMP or N6,O2'-dibutyryl cAMP, and this idea was additionally supported by experiments in which PDE inhibitors were tested.
Infections due to Aspergillus species cause significant morbidity and mortality. Most are attributed to Aspergillus fumigatus, followed by Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus terreus. Aspergillus niger is a mould that is rarely reported as a cause of pneumonia. A 72-year-old female with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and temporal arteritis being treated with steroids long term presented with haemoptysis and pleuritic chest pain. Chest radiography revealed areas of heterogeneous consolidation with cavitation in the right upper lobe of the lung. Induced bacterial sputum cultures, and acid-fast smears and cultures were negative. Fungal sputum cultures grew A. niger. The patient clinically improved on a combination therapy of empiric antibacterials and voriconazole, followed by voriconazole monotherapy. After 4 weeks of voriconazole therapy, however, repeat chest computed tomography scanning showed a significant progression of the infection and near-complete necrosis of the right upper lobe of the lung. Serum voriconazole levels were low–normal (1.0 μg ml−1, normal range for the assay 0.5–6.0 μg ml−1). A. niger was again recovered from bronchoalveolar lavage specimens. A right upper lobectomy was performed, and lung tissue cultures grew A. niger. Furthermore, the lung histopathology showed acute and organizing pneumonia, fungal hyphae and oxalate crystallosis, confirming the diagnosis of invasive A. niger infection. A. niger, unlike A. fumigatus and A. flavus, is less commonly considered a cause of invasive aspergillosis (IA). The finding of calcium oxalate crystals in histopathology specimens is classic for A. niger infection and can be helpful in making a diagnosis even in the absence of conidia. Therapeutic drug monitoring may be useful in optimizing the treatment of IA given the wide variations in the oral bioavailability of voriconazole.