Scientific reports

Differential Control of Asexual Development and Sterigmatocystin Biosynthesis by a Novel Regulator in Aspergillus nidulans.

PMID 28422127


The filamentous fungus Aspergillus nidulans primarily reproduces by forming asexual spores called conidia and produces the mycotoxin sterigmatocystin (ST), the penultimate precursor of aflatoxins. It has been known that asexual development and ST production are tightly co-regulated by various regulatory inputs. Here, we report that the novel regulator AslA with a C2H2 domain oppositely regulates development and ST biosynthesis. Nullifying aslA resulted in defective conidiation and reduced expression of brlA encoding a key activator of asexual development, which indicates that AslA functions as an upstream activator of brlA expression. aslA deletion additionally caused enhanced ST production and expression of aflR encoding a transcriptional activator for ST biosynthetic genes, suggesting that AslA functions as an upstream negative regulator of aflR. Cellular and molecular studies showed that AslA has a trans-activation domain and is localized in the nuclei of vegetative and developing cells but not in spores, indicating that AslA is likely a transcription factor. Introduction of the aslA homologs from distantly-related aspergilli complemented the defects caused by aslA null mutation in A. nidulans, implying a functional conservancy of AslA. We propose that AslA is a novel regulator that may act at the split control point of the developmental and metabolic pathways.

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