Fungal genetics and biology : FG & B

The inducers 1,3-diaminopropane and spermidine produce a drastic increase in the expression of the penicillin biosynthetic genes for prolonged time, mediated by the laeA regulator.

PMID 23089625


We described previously that an autoinducer molecule, identified as 1,3-diaminopropane (1,3-DAP), is secreted by Penicillium chrysogenum and Acremonium chrysogenum. Using pH-controlled fermentor cultures we have observed in this work that 1,3-DAP and spermidine clearly stimulate the biosynthesis of benzylpenicillin in P. chrysogenum, both in defined and in complex penicillin production media. Both 1,3-DAP and spermidine, but not putrescine (1,4-diaminobutane), produce a drastic increase in the transcript levels of the penicillin biosynthetic genes pcbAB, pcbC and penDE. These polyamines do not affect the expression of the global pH-stress regulator pacC gene, thus excluding that the effect of 1,3-DAP and spermidine is due to a modification of the pH control mechanism. Expression of the three penicillin biosynthetic genes is drastically reduced in a laeA-knock-down mutant of P. chrysogenum, which produces very low levels of benzylpenicillin. Interestingly, 1,3-DAP and spermidine revert the effect of the laeA knock-down mutation, completely restoring the levels of penicillin production. Furthermore, 1,3-DAP and spermidine enhanced the expression of laeA in the parental strain and restored the levels of laeA transcripts in the laeA knock-down mutant. Taken together these results indicate that the stimulatory effect of the inducer molecules 1,3-DAP and spermidine is exerted, at least in part, through the stimulation of the expression of laeA, a global regulator that acts epigenetically on the expression of secondary metabolite genes by heterochromatin reorganization.