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1.  Genome Sequence of the Mucoromycotina Fungus Umbelopsis isabellina, an Effective Producer of Lipids 
Genome Announcements  2014;2(1):e00071-14.
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.
PMCID: PMC3937604  PMID: 24578268
2.  Talaromyces atroroseus, a New Species Efficiently Producing Industrially Relevant Red Pigments 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e84102.
Some species of Talaromyces secrete large amounts of red pigments. Literature has linked this character to species such as Talaromyces purpurogenus, T. albobiverticillius, T. marneffei, and T. minioluteus often under earlier Penicillium names. Isolates identified as T. purpurogenus have been reported to be interesting industrially and they can produce extracellular enzymes and red pigments, but they can also produce mycotoxins such as rubratoxin A and B and luteoskyrin. Production of mycotoxins limits the use of isolates of a particular species in biotechnology. Talaromyces atroroseus sp. nov., described in this study, produces the azaphilone biosynthetic families mitorubrins and Monascus pigments without any production of mycotoxins. Within the red pigment producing clade, T. atroroseus resolved in a distinct clade separate from all the other species in multigene phylogenies (ITS, β-tubulin and RPB1), which confirm its unique nature. Talaromyces atroroseus resembles T. purpurogenus and T. albobiverticillius in producing red diffusible pigments, but differs from the latter two species by the production of glauconic acid, purpuride and ZG–1494α and by the dull to dark green, thick walled ellipsoidal conidia produced. The type strain of Talaromyces atroroseus is CBS 133442
PMCID: PMC3868618  PMID: 24367630
3.  The Polyketide Synthase Gene pks4 of Trichoderma reesei Provides Pigmentation and Stress Resistance 
Eukaryotic Cell  2013;12(11):1499-1508.
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.
PMCID: PMC3837940  PMID: 24036343
4.  The putative protein methyltransferase LAE1 controls cellulase gene expression in Trichoderma reesei 
Molecular Microbiology  2012;84(6):1150-1164.
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.
PMCID: PMC3370264  PMID: 22554051
LaeA/LAE1; heterochromatin; biofuels; Trichoderm; cellulases
5.  New Insight into the Ochratoxin A Biosynthetic Pathway through Deletion of a Nonribosomal Peptide Synthetase Gene in Aspergillus carbonarius 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2012;78(23):8208-8218.
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.
PMCID: PMC3497364  PMID: 22983973
6.  Functional Analyses of Trichoderma reesei LAE1 Reveal Conserved and Contrasting Roles of This Regulator 
G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics  2013;3(2):369-378.
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.
PMCID: PMC3564997  PMID: 23390613
cellulase; secondary metabolites; LaeA; Trichoderma reesei; Aspergillus nidulans; ChIP-seq; transcriptome
7.  Two Different Secondary Metabolism Gene Clusters Occupied the Same Ancestral Locus in Fungal Dermatophytes of the Arthrodermataceae 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e41903.
Dermatophyte fungi of the family Arthrodermataceae (Eurotiomycetes) colonize keratinized tissue, such as skin, frequently causing superficial mycoses in humans and other mammals, reptiles, and birds. Competition with native microflora likely underlies the propensity of these dermatophytes to produce a diversity of antibiotics and compounds for scavenging iron, which is extremely scarce, as well as the presence of an unusually large number of putative secondary metabolism gene clusters, most of which contain non-ribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPS), in their genomes. To better understand the historical origins and diversification of NRPS-containing gene clusters we examined the evolution of a variable locus (VL) that exists in one of three alternative conformations among the genomes of seven dermatophyte species.
The first conformation of the VL (termed VLA) contains only 539 base pairs of sequence and lacks protein-coding genes, whereas the other two conformations (termed VLB and VLC) span 36 Kb and 27 Kb and contain 12 and 10 genes, respectively. Interestingly, both VLB and VLC appear to contain distinct secondary metabolism gene clusters; VLB contains a NRPS gene as well as four porphyrin metabolism genes never found to be physically linked in the genomes of 128 other fungal species, whereas VLC also contains a NRPS gene as well as several others typically found associated with secondary metabolism gene clusters. Phylogenetic evidence suggests that the VL locus was present in the ancestor of all seven species achieving its present distribution through subsequent differential losses or retentions of specific conformations.
We propose that the existence of variable loci, similar to the one we studied, in fungal genomes could potentially explain the dramatic differences in secondary metabolic diversity between closely related species of filamentous fungi, and contribute to host adaptation and the generation of metabolic diversity.
PMCID: PMC3408471  PMID: 22860027
8.  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
9.  A Relationship between Carotenoid Accumulation and the Distribution of Species of the Fungus Neurospora in Spain 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33658.
The ascomycete fungus Neurospora is present in many parts of the world, in particular in tropical and subtropical areas, where it is found growing on recently burned vegetation. We have sampled the Neurospora population across Spain. The sampling sites were located in the region of Galicia (northwestern corner of the Iberian peninsula), the province of Cáceres, the city of Seville, and the two major islands of the Canary Islands archipelago (Tenerife and Gran Canaria, west coast of Africa). The sites covered a latitude interval between 27.88° and 42.74°. We have identified wild-type strains of N. discreta, N. tetrasperma, N. crassa, and N. sitophila and the frequency of each species varied from site to site. It has been shown that after exposure to light Neurospora accumulates the orange carotenoid neurosporaxanthin, presumably for protection from UV radiation. We have found that each Neurospora species accumulates a different amount of carotenoids after exposure to light, but these differences did not correlate with the expression of the carotenogenic genes al-1 or al-2. The accumulation of carotenoids in Neurospora shows a correlation with latitude, as Neurospora strains isolated from lower latitudes accumulate more carotenoids than strains isolated from higher latitudes. Since regions of low latitude receive high UV irradiation we propose that the increased carotenoid accumulation may protect Neurospora from high UV exposure. In support of this hypothesis, we have found that N. crassa, the species that accumulates more carotenoids, is more resistant to UV radiation than N. discreta or N. tetrasperma. The photoprotection provided by carotenoids and the capability to accumulate different amounts of carotenoids may be responsible, at least in part, for the distribution of Neurospora species that we have observed across a range of latitudes.
PMCID: PMC3309001  PMID: 22448263
10.  Dynamics of Seed-Borne Rice Endophytes on Early Plant Growth Stages 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e30438.
Bacterial endophytes are ubiquitous to virtually all terrestrial plants. With the increasing appreciation of studies that unravel the mutualistic interactions between plant and microbes, we increasingly value the beneficial functions of endophytes that improve plant growth and development. However, still little is known on the source of established endophytes as well as on how plants select specific microbial communities to establish associations. Here, we used cultivation-dependent and -independent approaches to assess the endophytic bacterrial community of surface-sterilized rice seeds, encompassing two consecutive rice generations. We isolated members of nine bacterial genera. In particular, organisms affiliated with Stenotrophomonas maltophilia and Ochrobactrum spp. were isolated from both seed generations. PCR-based denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (PCR-DGGE) of seed-extracted DNA revealed that approximately 45% of the bacterial community from the first seed generation was found in the second generation as well. In addition, we set up a greenhouse experiment to investigate abiotic and biotic factors influencing the endophytic bacterial community structure. PCR-DGGE profiles performed with DNA extracted from different plant parts showed that soil type is a major effector of the bacterial endophytes. Rice plants cultivated in neutral-pH soil favoured the growth of seed-borne Pseudomonas oryzihabitans and Rhizobium radiobacter, whereas Enterobacter-like and Dyella ginsengisoli were dominant in plants cultivated in low-pH soil. The seed-borne Stenotrophomonas maltophilia was the only conspicuous bacterial endophyte found in plants cultivated in both soils. Several members of the endophytic community originating from seeds were observed in the rhizosphere and surrounding soils. Their impact on the soil community is further discussed.
PMCID: PMC3281832  PMID: 22363438
11.  A versatile toolkit for high throughput functional genomics with Trichoderma reesei 
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.
PMCID: PMC3260098  PMID: 22212435
Trichoderma reesei; Hypocrea jecorina; transformation; vector construction; gene knock-out library; sexual crossing
12.  Rediscovery by Whole Genome Sequencing: Classical Mutations and Genome Polymorphisms in Neurospora crassa 
G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics  2011;1(4):303-316.
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.
PMCID: PMC3276140  PMID: 22384341
single nucleotide polymorphism; SNP; indel; comparative genomics; classical mutant
13.  Post-genomic approaches to understanding interactions between fungi and their environment 
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.
PMCID: PMC3317359  PMID: 22679591
(post-)genomics; Aspergillus oryzae; Aspergillus niger; Phycomyces blakesleeanus; Thielavia terrestris; Ustilago maydis
14.  Comparative genomics reveals mobile pathogenicity chromosomes in Fusarium 
Nature  2010;464(7287):367-373.
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.
PMCID: PMC3048781  PMID: 20237561
15.  BRED: A Simple and Powerful Tool for Constructing Mutant and Recombinant Bacteriophage Genomes 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(12):e3957.
Advances in DNA sequencing technology have facilitated the determination of hundreds of complete genome sequences both for bacteria and their bacteriophages. Some of these bacteria have well-developed and facile genetic systems for constructing mutants to determine gene function, and recombineering is a particularly effective tool. However, generally applicable methods for constructing defined mutants of bacteriophages are poorly developed, in part because of the inability to use selectable markers such as drug resistance genes during viral lytic growth. Here we describe a method for simple and effective directed mutagenesis of bacteriophage genomes using Bacteriophage Recombineering of Electroporated DNA (BRED), in which a highly efficient recombineering system is utilized directly on electroporated phage DNA; no selection is required and mutants can be readily detected by PCR. We describe the use of BRED to construct unmarked gene deletions, in-frame internal deletions, base substitutions, precise gene replacements, and the addition of gene tags.
PMCID: PMC2597740  PMID: 19088849
16.  Activation of an AP1-Like Transcription Factor of the Maize Pathogen Cochliobolus heterostrophus in Response to Oxidative Stress and Plant Signals 
Eukaryotic Cell  2005;4(2):443-454.
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.
PMCID: PMC549334  PMID: 15701806
17.  A Cell Signal Pathway Involving Laminin-5, α3β1 Integrin, and Mitogen-activated Protein Kinase Can Regulate Epithelial Cell Proliferation 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  1999;10(2):259-270.
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.
PMCID: PMC25167  PMID: 9950675
18.  The putative protein methyltransferase LAE1 controls cellulase gene expression in Trichoderma reesei 
Molecular Microbiology  2012;84(6):1150-1164.
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.
PMCID: PMC3370264  PMID: 22554051
19.  Endophytic Fungi Isolated from Oil-Seed Crop Jatropha curcas Produces Oil and Exhibit Antifungal Activity 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56202.
Jatropha curcas L., a perennial plant grown in tropics and subtropics is popularly known for its potential as biofuel. The plant is reported to survive under varying environmental conditions having tolerance to stress and an ability to manage pest and diseases. The plant was explored for its endophytic fungi for use in crop protection. Endophytic fungi were isolated from leaf of Jatropha curcas, collected from New Delhi, India. Four isolates were identified as Colletotrichum truncatum, and other isolates were identified as Nigrospora oryzae, Fusarium proliferatum, Guignardia cammillae, Alternaria destruens, and Chaetomium sp. Dual plate culture bioassays and bioactivity assays of solvent extracts of fungal mycelia showed that isolates of Colletotrichum truncatum were effective against plant pathogenic fungi Fusarium oxysporum and Sclerotinia sclerotiorum. Isolate EF13 had highest activity against S. sclerotiorum. Extracts of active endophytic fungi were prepared and tested against S. sclerotiorum. Ethyl acetate and methanol extract of C. truncatum EF10 showed 71.7% and 70% growth inhibition, respectively. Hexane extracts of C. truncatum isolates EF9, EF10, and EF13 yielded oil and the oil from EF10 was similar to oil of the host plant, i.e., J. curcas.
PMCID: PMC3568098  PMID: 23409154
20.  Comparative Genome Structure, Secondary Metabolite, and Effector Coding Capacity across Cochliobolus Pathogens 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(1):e1003233.
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.
Author Summary
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.
PMCID: PMC3554632  PMID: 23357949
21.  Industrial Systems Biology of Saccharomyces cerevisiae Enables Novel Succinic Acid Cell Factory 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54144.
Saccharomyces cerevisiae is the most well characterized eukaryote, the preferred microbial cell factory for the largest industrial biotechnology product (bioethanol), and a robust commerically compatible scaffold to be exploitted for diverse chemical production. Succinic acid is a highly sought after added-value chemical for which there is no native pre-disposition for production and accmulation in S. cerevisiae. The genome-scale metabolic network reconstruction of S. cerevisiae enabled in silico gene deletion predictions using an evolutionary programming method to couple biomass and succinate production. Glycine and serine, both essential amino acids required for biomass formation, are formed from both glycolytic and TCA cycle intermediates. Succinate formation results from the isocitrate lyase catalyzed conversion of isocitrate, and from the α-keto-glutarate dehydrogenase catalyzed conversion of α-keto-glutarate. Succinate is subsequently depleted by the succinate dehydrogenase complex. The metabolic engineering strategy identified included deletion of the primary succinate consuming reaction, Sdh3p, and interruption of glycolysis derived serine by deletion of 3-phosphoglycerate dehydrogenase, Ser3p/Ser33p. Pursuing these targets, a multi-gene deletion strain was constructed, and directed evolution with selection used to identify a succinate producing mutant. Physiological characterization coupled with integrated data analysis of transcriptome data in the metabolically engineered strain were used to identify 2nd-round metabolic engineering targets. The resulting strain represents a 30-fold improvement in succinate titer, and a 43-fold improvement in succinate yield on biomass, with only a 2.8-fold decrease in the specific growth rate compared to the reference strain. Intuitive genetic targets for either over-expression or interruption of succinate producing or consuming pathways, respectively, do not lead to increased succinate. Rather, we demonstrate how systems biology tools coupled with directed evolution and selection allows non-intuitive, rapid and substantial re-direction of carbon fluxes in S. cerevisiae, and hence show proof of concept that this is a potentially attractive cell factory for over-producing different platform chemicals.
PMCID: PMC3549990  PMID: 23349810
22.  Transcriptomic response of the mycoparasitic fungus Trichoderma atroviride to the presence of a fungal prey 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:567.
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.
PMCID: PMC2794292  PMID: 19948043
23.  Attenuated AMPA Receptor Expression Allows Glioblastoma Cell Survival in Glutamate-Rich Environment 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(6):e5953.
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) cells secrete large amounts of glutamate that can trigger AMPA-type glutamate receptors (AMPARs). This commonly results in Na+ and Ca2+-permeability and thereby in excitotoxic cell death of the surrounding neurons. Here we investigated how the GBM cells themselves survive in a glutamate-rich environment.
Methods and Findings
In silico analysis of published reports shows down-regulation of all ionotropic glutamate receptors in GBM as compared to normal brain. In vitro, in all GBM samples tested, mRNA expression of AMPAR subunit GluR1, 2 and 4 was relatively low compared to adult and fetal total brain mRNA and adult cerebellum mRNA. These findings were in line with primary GBM samples, in which protein expression patterns were down-regulated as compared to the normal tissue. Furthermore, mislocalized expression of these receptors was found. Sequence analysis of GluR2 RNA in primary and established GBM cell lines showed that the GluR2 subunit was found to be partly unedited.
Together with the lack of functional effect of AMPAR inhibition by NBQX our results suggest that down-regulation and afunctionality of AMPARs, enable GBM cells to survive in a high glutamate environment without going into excitotoxic cell death themselves. It can be speculated that specific AMPA receptor inhibitors may protect normal neurons against the high glutamate microenvironment of GBM tumors.
PMCID: PMC2693929  PMID: 19536293
24.  Impact of Pretreated Switchgrass and Biomass Carbohydrates on Clostridium thermocellum ATCC 27405 Cellulosome Composition: A Quantitative Proteomic Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(4):e5271.
Economic feasibility and sustainability of lignocellulosic ethanol production requires the development of robust microorganisms that can efficiently degrade and convert plant biomass to ethanol. The anaerobic thermophilic bacterium Clostridium thermocellum is a candidate microorganism as it is capable of hydrolyzing cellulose and fermenting the hydrolysis products to ethanol and other metabolites. C. thermocellum achieves efficient cellulose hydrolysis using multiprotein extracellular enzymatic complexes, termed cellulosomes.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In this study, we used quantitative proteomics (multidimensional LC-MS/MS and 15N-metabolic labeling) to measure relative changes in levels of cellulosomal subunit proteins (per CipA scaffoldin basis) when C. thermocellum ATCC 27405 was grown on a variety of carbon sources [dilute-acid pretreated switchgrass, cellobiose, amorphous cellulose, crystalline cellulose (Avicel) and combinations of crystalline cellulose with pectin or xylan or both]. Cellulosome samples isolated from cultures grown on these carbon sources were compared to 15N labeled cellulosome samples isolated from crystalline cellulose-grown cultures. In total from all samples, proteomic analysis identified 59 dockerin- and 8 cohesin-module containing components, including 16 previously undetected cellulosomal subunits. Many cellulosomal components showed differential protein abundance in the presence of non-cellulose substrates in the growth medium. Cellulosome samples from amorphous cellulose, cellobiose and pretreated switchgrass-grown cultures displayed the most distinct differences in composition as compared to cellulosome samples from crystalline cellulose-grown cultures. While Glycoside Hydrolase Family 9 enzymes showed increased levels in the presence of crystalline cellulose, and pretreated switchgrass, in particular, GH5 enzymes showed increased levels in response to the presence of cellulose in general, amorphous or crystalline.
Overall, the quantitative results suggest a coordinated substrate-specific regulation of cellulosomal subunit composition in C. thermocellum to better suit the organism's needs for growth under different conditions. To date, this study provides the most comprehensive comparison of cellulosomal compositional changes in C. thermocellum in response to different carbon sources. Such studies are vital to engineering a strain that is best suited to grow on specific substrates of interest and provide the building blocks for constructing designer cellulosomes with tailored enzyme composition for industrial ethanol production.
PMCID: PMC2668762  PMID: 19384422
25.  Exploiting proteomic data for genome annotation and gene model validation in Aspergillus niger 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:61.
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.
PMCID: PMC2644712  PMID: 19193216

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