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1.  Aspergillus nidulans Synthesize Insect Juvenile Hormones upon Expression of a Heterologous Regulatory Protein and in Response to Grazing by Drosophila melanogaster Larvae 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e73369.
Secondary metabolites are known to serve a wide range of specialized functions including communication, developmental control and defense. Genome sequencing of several fungal model species revealed that the majority of predicted secondary metabolite related genes are silent in laboratory strains, indicating that fungal secondary metabolites remain an underexplored resource of bioactive molecules. In this study, we combine heterologous expression of regulatory proteins in Aspergillus nidulans with systematic variation of growth conditions and observe induced synthesis of insect juvenile hormone-III and methyl farnesoate. Both compounds are sesquiterpenes belonging to the juvenile hormone class. Juvenile hormones regulate developmental and metabolic processes in insects and crustaceans, but have not previously been reported as fungal metabolites. We found that feeding by Drosophila melanogaster larvae induced synthesis of juvenile hormone in A. nidulans indicating a possible role of juvenile hormone biosynthesis in affecting fungal-insect antagonisms.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0073369
PMCID: PMC3753258  PMID: 23991191
2.  A Versatile System for USER Cloning-Based Assembly of Expression Vectors for Mammalian Cell Engineering 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e96693.
A new versatile mammalian vector system for protein production, cell biology analyses, and cell factory engineering was developed. The vector system applies the ligation-free uracil-excision based technique – USER cloning – to rapidly construct mammalian expression vectors of multiple DNA fragments and with maximum flexibility, both for choice of vector backbone and cargo. The vector system includes a set of basic vectors and a toolbox containing a multitude of DNA building blocks including promoters, terminators, selectable marker- and reporter genes, and sequences encoding an internal ribosome entry site, cellular localization signals and epitope- and purification tags. Building blocks in the toolbox can be easily combined as they contain defined and tested Flexible Assembly Sequence Tags, FASTs. USER cloning with FASTs allows rapid swaps of gene, promoter or selection marker in existing plasmids and simple construction of vectors encoding proteins, which are fused to fluorescence-, purification-, localization-, or epitope tags. The mammalian expression vector assembly platform currently allows for the assembly of up to seven fragments in a single cloning step with correct directionality and with a cloning efficiency above 90%. The functionality of basic vectors for FAST assembly was tested and validated by transient expression of fluorescent model proteins in CHO, U-2-OS and HEK293 cell lines. In this test, we included many of the most common vector elements for heterologous gene expression in mammalian cells, in addition the system is fully extendable by other users. The vector system is designed to facilitate high-throughput genome-scale studies of mammalian cells, such as the newly sequenced CHO cell lines, through the ability to rapidly generate high-fidelity assembly of customizable gene expression vectors.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0096693
PMCID: PMC4039435  PMID: 24879460
3.  Identification of a Transcription Factor Controlling pH-Dependent Organic Acid Response in Aspergillus niger 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e50596.
Acid formation in Aspergillus niger is known to be subjected to tight regulation, and the acid production profiles are fine-tuned to respond to the ambient pH. Based on transcriptome data, putative trans-acting pH responding transcription factors were listed and through knock out studies, mutants exhibiting an oxalate overproducing phenotype were identified. The yield of oxalate was increased up to 158% compared to the wild type and the corresponding transcription factor was therefore entitled Oxalic Acid repression Factor, OafA. Detailed physiological characterization of one of the ΔoafA mutants, compared to the wild type, showed that both strains produced substantial amounts of gluconic acid, but the mutant strain was more efficient in re-uptake of gluconic acid and converting it to oxalic acid, particularly at high pH (pH 5.0). Transcriptional profiles showed that 241 genes were differentially expressed due to the deletion of oafA and this supported the argument of OafA being a trans-acting transcription factor. Furthermore, expression of two phosphoketolases was down-regulated in the ΔoafA mutant, one of which has not previously been described in fungi. It was argued that the observed oxalate overproducing phenotype was a consequence of the efficient re-uptake of gluconic acid and thereby a higher flux through glycolysis. This results in a lower flux through the pentose phosphate pathway, demonstrated by the down-regulation of the phosphoketolases. Finally, the physiological data, in terms of the specific oxygen consumption, indicated a connection between the oxidative phosphorylation and oxalate production and this was further substantiated through transcription analysis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0050596
PMCID: PMC3520943  PMID: 23251373
4.  Metabolic model integration of the bibliome, genome, metabolome and reactome of Aspergillus niger 
The release of the genome sequences of two strains of Aspergillus niger has allowed systems-level investigations of this important microbial cell factory. To this end, tools for doing data integration of multi-ome data are necessary, and especially interesting in the context of metabolism. On the basis of an A. niger bibliome survey, we present the largest model reconstruction of a metabolic network reported for a fungal species. The reconstructed gapless metabolic network is based on the reportings of 371 articles and comprises 1190 biochemically unique reactions and 871 ORFs. Inclusion of isoenzymes increases the total number of reactions to 2240. A graphical map of the metabolic network is presented. All levels of the reconstruction process were based on manual curation. From the reconstructed metabolic network, a mathematical model was constructed and validated with data on yields, fluxes and transcription. The presented metabolic network and map are useful tools for examining systemwide data in a metabolic context. Results from the validated model show a great potential for expanding the use of A. niger as a high-yield production platform.
doi:10.1038/msb.2008.12
PMCID: PMC2290933  PMID: 18364712
Aspergillus niger; bibliome; genome; metabolic network; metabolome

Results 1-4 (4)