Species of the fungal genus Trichoderma (Hypocreales, Ascomycota) are well-known for their production of various secondary metabolites. Nonribosomal peptides and polyketides represent a major portion of these products. In a recent phylogenomic investigation of Trichoderma polyketide synthase (PKS)-encoding genes, the pks4 from T. reesei was shown to be an orthologue of pigment-forming PKSs involved in synthesis of aurofusarin and bikaverin in Fusarium spp. In this study, we show that deletion of this gene in T. reesei results in loss of green conidial pigmentation and in pigmentation alteration of teleomorph structures. It also has an impact on conidial cell wall stability and the antagonistic abilities of T. reesei against other fungi, including formation of inhibitory metabolites. In addition, deletion of pks4 significantly influences the expression of other PKS-encoding genes of T. reesei. To our knowledge, this is the first indication that a low-molecular-weight pigment-forming PKS is involved in defense, mechanical stability, and stress resistance in fungi.
A resin-assisted enrichment method has been developed for specific isolation of protein N-terminal peptides to facilitate LC-MS/MS characterization of proteolytic processing, a major form of posttranslational modifications. In this method, protein thiols are blocked by reduction and alkylation, and protein lysine residues are converted to homoarginines. Protein N-termini are selectively converted to reactive thiol groups, and the thiol-containing N-terminal peptides are then captured by a thiol-affinity resin with high specificity (>97%). The efficiencies of these sequential reactions were demonstrated to be nearly quantitative. The resin-assisted N-terminal peptide enrichment approach was initially applied to a cell lysate of the filamentous fungus Aspergillus niger. Subsequent C-MS/MS analyses resulted in the identification of 1672 unique protein N-termini or proteolytic cleavage sites from 690 unique proteins.
proteolytic processing; N-terminal peptides; enrichment; Aspergillus niger
Umbelopsis isabellina is a fungus in the subdivision Mucoromycotina, many members of which have been shown to be oleaginous and have become important organisms for producing oil because of their high level of intracellular lipid accumulation from various feedstocks. The genome sequence of U. isabellina NBRC 7884 was determined and annotated, and this information might provide insights into the oleaginous properties of this fungus.
Trichoderma reesei is an industrial producer of enzymes that degrade lignocellulosic polysaccharides to soluble monomers, which can be fermented to biofuels. Here we show that the expression of genes for lignocellulose degradation are controlled by the orthologous T. reesei protein methyltransferase LAE1. In a lae1 deletion mutant we observed a complete loss of expression of all seven cellulases, auxiliary factors for cellulose degradation, β-glucosidases and xylanases were no longer expressed. Conversely, enhanced expression of lae1 resulted in significantly increased cellulase gene transcription. Lae1-modulated cellulase gene expression was dependent on the function of the general cellulase regulator XYR1, but also xyr1 expression was LAE1-dependent. LAE1 was also essential for conidiation of T. reesei. Chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by high-throughput sequencing (“ChIP-seq”) showed that lae1 expression was not obviously correlated with H3K4 di- or trimethylation (indicative of active transcription) or H3K9 trimethylation (typical for heterochromatin regions) in CAZyme coding regions, suggesting that LAE1 does not affect CAZyme gene expression by directly modulating H3K4 or H3K9 methylation. Our data demonstrate that the putative protein methyltransferase LAE1 is essential for cellulase gene expression in T. reesei through mechanisms that remain to be identified.
LaeA/LAE1; heterochromatin; biofuels; Trichoderm; cellulases
Ochratoxin A (OTA), a mycotoxin produced by Aspergillus and Penicillium species, is composed of a dihydroisocoumarin ring linked to phenylalanine, and its biosynthetic pathway has not yet been completely elucidated. Most of the knowledge regarding the genetic and enzymatic aspects of OTA biosynthesis has been elucidated in Penicillium species. In Aspergillus species, only pks genes involved in the initial steps of the pathway have been partially characterized. In our study, the inactivation of a gene encoding a nonribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS) in OTA-producing A. carbonarius ITEM 5010 has eliminated the ability of this fungus to produce OTA. This is the first report on the involvement of an nrps gene product in OTA biosynthetic pathway in an Aspergillus species. The absence of OTA and ochratoxin α, the isocoumaric derivative of OTA, and the concomitant increase of ochratoxin β, the dechloro analog of ochratoxin α, were observed in the liquid culture of transformed strain. The data provide the first evidence that the enzymatic step adding phenylalanine to polyketide dihydroisocoumarin precedes the chlorination step to form OTA in A. carbonarius and that ochratoxin α is a product of hydrolysis of OTA, giving an interesting new insight into the biosynthetic pathway of the toxin.
The putative methyltransferase LaeA is a global regulator that affects the expression of multiple secondary metabolite gene clusters in several fungi, and it can modify heterochromatin structure in Aspergillus nidulans. We have recently shown that the LaeA ortholog of Trichoderma reesei (LAE1), a fungus that is an industrial producer of cellulase and hemicellulase enzymes, regulates the expression of cellulases and polysaccharide hydrolases. To learn more about the function of LAE1 in T. reesei, we assessed the effect of deletion and overexpression of lae1 on genome-wide gene expression. We found that in addition to positively regulating 7 of 17 polyketide or nonribosomal peptide synthases, genes encoding ankyrin-proteins, iron uptake, heterokaryon incompatibility proteins, PTH11-receptors, and oxidases/monoxygenases are major gene categories also regulated by LAE1. chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing with antibodies against histone modifications known to be associated with transcriptionally active (H3K4me2 and -me3) or silent (H3K9me3) chromatin detected 4089 genes bearing one or more of these methylation marks, of which 75 exhibited a correlation between either H3K4me2 or H3K4me3 and regulation by LAE1. Transformation of a laeA-null mutant of A. nidulans with the T. reesei lae1 gene did not rescue sterigmatocystin formation and further impaired sexual development. LAE1 did not interact with A. nidulans VeA in yeast two-hybrid assays, whereas it interacted with the T. reesei VeA ortholog, VEL1. LAE1 was shown to be required for the expression of vel1, whereas the orthologs of velB and VosA are unaffected by lae1 deletion. Our data show that the biological roles of A. nidulans LaeA and T. reesei LAE1 are much less conserved than hitherto thought. In T. reesei, LAE1 appears predominantly to regulate genes increasing relative fitness in its environment.
cellulase; secondary metabolites; LaeA; Trichoderma reesei; Aspergillus nidulans; ChIP-seq; transcriptome
The genomes of five Cochliobolus heterostrophus strains, two Cochliobolus sativus strains, three additional Cochliobolus species (Cochliobolus victoriae, Cochliobolus carbonum, Cochliobolus miyabeanus), and closely related Setosphaeria turcica were sequenced at the Joint Genome Institute (JGI). The datasets were used to identify SNPs between strains and species, unique genomic regions, core secondary metabolism genes, and small secreted protein (SSP) candidate effector encoding genes with a view towards pinpointing structural elements and gene content associated with specificity of these closely related fungi to different cereal hosts. Whole-genome alignment shows that three to five percent of each genome differs between strains of the same species, while a quarter of each genome differs between species. On average, SNP counts among field isolates of the same C. heterostrophus species are more than 25× higher than those between inbred lines and 50× lower than SNPs between Cochliobolus species. The suites of nonribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS), polyketide synthase (PKS), and SSP–encoding genes are astoundingly diverse among species but remarkably conserved among isolates of the same species, whether inbred or field strains, except for defining examples that map to unique genomic regions. Functional analysis of several strain-unique PKSs and NRPSs reveal a strong correlation with a role in virulence.
The filamentous ascomycete genus Cochliobolus includes highly aggressive necrotrophic and hemibiotrophic pathogens with particular specificity to their host plants, often associated with production of host selective toxins (HST) that allow necrotrophs to trigger host cell death. Hemibiotrophs must keep their hosts alive during initial infection stages and rely on subverting host defenses by secreting small protein effectors. Many Cochliobolus species have emerged rapidly as devastating pathogens due to HSTs. The genomes of Cochliobolus and related pathogens that differ in host preference, host specificity, and virulence strategies have been sequenced. Our comparative results, at the whole-genome level, and with a spotlight on core genes for secondary metabolism and small secreted proteins, touch on how pathogens develop and hone these tools, according to host or lifestyle. We suggest that, while necrotrophs and hemibiotrophs employ fundamentally contrasting mechanisms of promoting disease, the tools they utilize (HSTs and protein effectors) overlap. The suites of secondary metabolite and SSP genes that each possesses reflect astounding diversity among species, hinting that gene products, particularly those associated with unique genomic regions, are candidates for pathogenic lifestyle differences. Manipulations of strain-unique secondary metabolite genes associated with host-specific virulence provide tangible examples.
Mycoparasitism, a lifestyle where one fungus is parasitic on another fungus, has special relevance when the prey is a plant pathogen, providing a strategy for biological control of pests for plant protection. Probably, the most studied biocontrol agents are species of the genus Hypocrea/Trichoderma.
Here we report an analysis of the genome sequences of the two biocontrol species Trichoderma atroviride (teleomorph Hypocrea atroviridis) and Trichoderma virens (formerly Gliocladium virens, teleomorph Hypocrea virens), and a comparison with Trichoderma reesei (teleomorph Hypocrea jecorina). These three Trichoderma species display a remarkable conservation of gene order (78 to 96%), and a lack of active mobile elements probably due to repeat-induced point mutation. Several gene families are expanded in the two mycoparasitic species relative to T. reesei or other ascomycetes, and are overrepresented in non-syntenic genome regions. A phylogenetic analysis shows that T. reesei and T. virens are derived relative to T. atroviride. The mycoparasitism-specific genes thus arose in a common Trichoderma ancestor but were subsequently lost in T. reesei.
The data offer a better understanding of mycoparasitism, and thus enforce the development of improved biocontrol strains for efficient and environmentally friendly protection of plants.
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.
Secondary Metabolism; Aspergillus niger; Natural Products; Genomics; Naphtho-γ-pyrone; Polyketides
The ascomycete fungus, Trichoderma reesei (anamorph of Hypocrea jecorina), represents a biotechnological workhorse and is currently one of the most proficient cellulase producers. While strain improvement was traditionally accomplished by random mutagenesis, a detailed understanding of cellulase regulation can only be gained using recombinant technologies.
Aiming at high efficiency and high throughput methods, we present here a construction kit for gene knock out in T. reesei. We provide a primer database for gene deletion using the pyr4, amdS and hph selection markers. For high throughput generation of gene knock outs, we constructed vectors using yeast mediated recombination and then transformed a T. reesei strain deficient in non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) by spore electroporation. This NHEJ-defect was subsequently removed by crossing of mutants with a sexually competent strain derived from the parental strain, QM9414.
Using this strategy and the materials provided, high throughput gene deletion in T. reesei becomes feasible. Moreover, with the application of sexual development, the NHEJ-defect can be removed efficiently and without the need for additional selection markers. The same advantages apply for the construction of multiple mutants by crossing of strains with different gene deletions, which is now possible with considerably less hands-on time and minimal screening effort compared to a transformation approach. Consequently this toolkit can considerably boost research towards efficient exploitation of the resources of T. reesei for cellulase expression and hence second generation biofuel production.
Trichoderma reesei; Hypocrea jecorina; transformation; vector construction; gene knock-out library; sexual crossing
Classical forward genetics has been foundational to modern biology, and has been the paradigm for characterizing the role of genes in shaping phenotypes for decades. In recent years, reverse genetics has been used to identify the functions of genes, via the intentional introduction of variation and subsequent evaluation in physiological, molecular, and even population contexts. These approaches are complementary and whole genome analysis serves as a bridge between the two. We report in this article the whole genome sequencing of eighteen classical mutant strains of Neurospora crassa and the putative identification of the mutations associated with corresponding mutant phenotypes. Although some strains carry multiple unique nonsynonymous, nonsense, or frameshift mutations, the combined power of limiting the scope of the search based on genetic markers and of using a comparative analysis among the eighteen genomes provides strong support for the association between mutation and phenotype. For ten of the mutants, the mutant phenotype is recapitulated in classical or gene deletion mutants in Neurospora or other filamentous fungi. From thirteen to 137 nonsense mutations are present in each strain and indel sizes are shown to be highly skewed in gene coding sequence. Significant additional genetic variation was found in the eighteen mutant strains, and this variability defines multiple alleles of many genes. These alleles may be useful in further genetic and molecular analysis of known and yet-to-be-discovered functions and they invite new interpretations of molecular and genetic interactions in classical mutant strains.
single nucleotide polymorphism; SNP; indel; comparative genomics; classical mutant
Fungi inhabit every natural and anthropogenic environment on Earth. They have highly varied life-styles including saprobes (using only dead biomass as a nutrient source), pathogens (feeding on living biomass), and symbionts (co-existing with other organisms). These distinctions are not absolute as many species employ several life styles (e.g. saprobe and opportunistic pathogen, saprobe and mycorrhiza). To efficiently survive in these different and often changing environments, fungi need to be able to modify their physiology and in some cases will even modify their local environment. Understanding the interaction between fungi and their environments has been a topic of study for many decades. However, recently these studies have reached a new dimension. The availability of fungal genomes and development of post-genomic technologies for fungi, such as transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics, have enabled more detailed studies into this topic resulting in new insights. Based on a Special Interest Group session held during IMC9, this paper provides examples of the recent advances in using (post-)genomic approaches to better understand fungal interactions with their environments.
(post-)genomics; Aspergillus oryzae; Aspergillus niger; Phycomyces blakesleeanus; Thielavia terrestris; Ustilago maydis
Fusarium species are among the most important phytopathogenic and toxigenic fungi. To understand the molecular underpinnings of pathogenicity in the genus Fusarium, we compared the genomes of three phenotypically diverse species: Fusarium graminearum, Fusarium verticillioides and Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. lycopersici. Our analysis revealed lineage-specific (LS) genomic regions in F. oxysporum that include four entire chromosomes and account for more than one-quarter of the genome. LS regions are rich in transposons and genes with distinct evolutionary profiles but related to pathogenicity, indicative of horizontal acquisition. Experimentally, we demonstrate the transfer of two LS chromosomes between strains of F. oxysporum, converting a non-pathogenic strain into a pathogen. Transfer of LS chromosomes between otherwise genetically isolated strains explains the polyphyletic origin of host specificity and the emergence of new pathogenic lineages in F. oxysporum. These findings put the evolution of fungal pathogenicity into a new perspective.
Combating the action of plant pathogenic microorganisms by mycoparasitic fungi has been announced as an attractive biological alternative to the use of chemical fungicides since two decades. The fungal genus Trichoderma includes a high number of taxa which are able to recognize, combat and finally besiege and kill their prey. Only fragments of the biochemical processes related to this ability have been uncovered so far, however.
We analyzed genome-wide gene expression changes during the begin of physical contact between Trichoderma atroviride and two plant pathogens Botrytis cinerea and Rhizoctonia solani, and compared with gene expression patterns of mycelial and conidiating cultures, respectively. About 3000 ESTs, representing about 900 genes, were obtained from each of these three growth conditions. 66 genes, represented by 442 ESTs, were specifically and significantly overexpressed during onset of mycoparasitism, and the expression of a subset thereof was verified by expression analysis. The upregulated genes comprised 18 KOG groups, but were most abundant from the groups representing posttranslational processing, and amino acid metabolism, and included components of the stress response, reaction to nitrogen shortage, signal transduction and lipid catabolism. Metabolic network analysis confirmed the upregulation of the genes for amino acid biosynthesis and of those involved in the catabolism of lipids and aminosugars.
The analysis of the genes overexpressed during the onset of mycoparasitism in T. atroviride has revealed that the fungus reacts to this condition with several previously undetected physiological reactions. These data enable a new and more comprehensive interpretation of the physiology of mycoparasitism, and will aid in the selection of traits for improvement of biocontrol strains by recombinant techniques.
Proteomic data is a potentially rich, but arguably unexploited, data source for genome annotation. Peptide identifications from tandem mass spectrometry provide prima facie evidence for gene predictions and can discriminate over a set of candidate gene models. Here we apply this to the recently sequenced Aspergillus niger fungal genome from the Joint Genome Institutes (JGI) and another predicted protein set from another A.niger sequence. Tandem mass spectra (MS/MS) were acquired from 1d gel electrophoresis bands and searched against all available gene models using Average Peptide Scoring (APS) and reverse database searching to produce confident identifications at an acceptable false discovery rate (FDR).
405 identified peptide sequences were mapped to 214 different A.niger genomic loci to which 4093 predicted gene models clustered, 2872 of which contained the mapped peptides. Interestingly, 13 (6%) of these loci either had no preferred predicted gene model or the genome annotators' chosen "best" model for that genomic locus was not found to be the most parsimonious match to the identified peptides. The peptides identified also boosted confidence in predicted gene structures spanning 54 introns from different gene models.
This work highlights the potential of integrating experimental proteomics data into genomic annotation pipelines much as expressed sequence tag (EST) data has been. A comparison of the published genome from another strain of A.niger sequenced by DSM showed that a number of the gene models or proteins with proteomics evidence did not occur in both genomes, further highlighting the utility of the method.
Redox sensing is a ubiquitous mechanism regulating cellular activity. Fungal pathogens face reactive oxygen species produced by the host plant's oxidative burst in addition to endogenous reactive oxygen species produced during aerobic metabolism. An array of preformed and induced detoxifying enzymes, including superoxide dismutase, catalases, and peroxidases, could allow fungi to infect plants despite the oxidative burst. We isolated a gene (CHAP1) encoding a redox-regulated transcription factor in Cochliobolus heterostrophus, a fungal pathogen of maize. CHAP1 is a bZIP protein that possesses two cysteine-rich domains structurally and functionally related to Saccharomyces cerevisiae YAP1. Deletion of CHAP1 in C. heterostrophus resulted in decreased resistance to oxidative stress caused by hydrogen peroxide and menadione, but the virulence of chap1 mutants was unaffected. Upon activation by oxidizing agents or plant signals, a green fluorescent protein (GFP)-CHAP1 fusion protein became localized in the nucleus. Expression of genes encoding antioxidant proteins was induced in the wild type but not in chap1 mutants. Activation of CHAP1 occurred from the earliest stage of plant infection, in conidial germ tubes on the leaf surface, and persisted during infection. Late in the course of infection, after extensive necrotic lesions were formed, GFP-CHAP1 redistributed to the cytosol in hyphae growing on the leaf surface. Localization of CHAP1 to the nucleus may, through changes in the redox state of the cell, provide a mechanism linking extracellular cues to transcriptional regulation during the plant-pathogen interaction.
Trichoderma reesei is an industrial producer of enzymes that degrade lignocellulosic polysaccharides to soluble monomers, which can be fermented to biofuels. Here we show that the expression of genes for lignocellulose degradation are controlled by the orthologous T. reesei protein methyltransferase LAE1. In a lae1 deletion mutant we observed a complete loss of expression of all seven cellulases, auxiliary factors for cellulose degradation, β-glucosidases and xylanases were no longer expressed. Conversely, enhanced expression of lae1 resulted in significantly increased cellulase gene transcription. Lae1-modulated cellulase gene expression was dependent on the function of the general cellulase regulator XYR1, but also xyr1 expression was LAE1-dependent. LAE1 was also essential for conidiation of T. reesei. Chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by high-throughput sequencing (‘ChIP-seq’) showed that lae1 expression was not obviously correlated with H3K4 di- or trimethylation (indicative of active transcription) or H3K9 trimethylation (typical for heterochromatin regions) in CAZyme coding regions, suggesting that LAE1 does not affect CAZyme gene expression by directly modulating H3K4 or H3K9 methylation. Our data demonstrate that the putative protein methyltransferase LAE1 is essential for cellulase gene expression in T. reesei through mechanisms that remain to be identified.
Laminin-5 (LN5) is a matrix component of epithelial tissue basement membranes and plays an important role in the initiation and maintenance of epithelial cell anchorage to the underlying connective tissue. Here we show that two distinct LN5 function-inhibitory antibodies, both of which bind the globular domain of the α3 subunit, inhibit proliferation of epithelial cells. These same antibodies also induce a decrease in mitogen-activated protein kinase activity. Inhibition of proliferation by the function-perturbing LN5 antibodies is reversed upon removal of the antibodies and can be overcome by providing the antibody-treated cells with exogenous LN5 and rat tail collagen. Because epithelial cells use the integrin receptor α3β1 to interact with both LN5 and rat tail collagen, we next investigated the possibility that integrin α3β1 is involved in mediating the proliferative impact of LN5. Proliferation of human epithelial cells is significantly inhibited by a function-perturbing α3 integrin antibody. In addition, antibody activation of β1 integrin restores the proliferation of epithelial cells treated with LN5 function-perturbing antibodies. These data indicate that a complex comprising LN5 and α3β1 integrin is multifunctional and contributes not only to epithelial cell adhesion but also to the regulation of cell growth via a signaling pathway involving mitogen-activated protein kinase. We discuss our study in light of recent evidence that LN5 expression is up-regulated at the leading tips of tumors, where it may play a role in tumor cell proliferation.