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Concept: Aspergillus oryzae


Semi-synthetic derivatives of the tricyclic diterpene antibiotic pleuromutilin from the basidiomycete Clitopilus passeckerianus are important in combatting bacterial infections in human and veterinary medicine. These compounds belong to the only new class of antibiotics for human applications, with novel mode of action and lack of cross-resistance, representing a class with great potential. Basidiomycete fungi, being dikaryotic, are not generally amenable to strain improvement. We report identification of the seven-gene pleuromutilin gene cluster and verify that using various targeted approaches aimed at increasing antibiotic production in C. passeckerianus, no improvement in yield was achieved. The seven-gene pleuromutilin cluster was reconstructed within Aspergillus oryzae giving production of pleuromutilin in an ascomycete, with a significant increase (2106%) in production. This is the first gene cluster from a basidiomycete to be successfully expressed in an ascomycete, and paves the way for the exploitation of a metabolically rich but traditionally overlooked group of fungi.

Concepts: Medicine, Bacteria, Virus, Fungus, Antibiotic, Ascomycota, Aspergillus oryzae, Mold


In the present study, the antifungal effects of phenylmercuric nitrate and benzalkonium chloride versus those of natamycin and ketoconazole were assessed against 216 filamentous fungi isolates from cases of fungal keratitis. They included 112 Fusarium isolates, 94 Aspergillus isolates, and 10 Alternaria alternata isolates. The strains were tested by broth dilution antifungal susceptibility testing of filamentous fungi approved by the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute M38-A document. The results showed that the MIC(50) values of phenylmercuric nitrate were 0.0156, 0.0156, and 0.0313 μg/mL for Fusarium spp., Aspergillus spp., and A. alternata, respectively. The MIC(90) values of phenylmercuric nitrate were 0.0313, 0.0313, and 0.0313 μg/mL for Fusarium spp., Aspergillus spp., and A. alternata, respectively. The MIC(50) values of benzalkonium chloride were 16, 32, and 8 μg/mL for Fusarium spp., Aspergillus spp., and A. alternata, respectively. The MIC(90) values of benzalkonium chloride were 32, 32, and 16 μg/mL for Fusarium spp., Aspergillus spp., and A. alternata, respectively. The study indicates that phenylmercuric nitrate has considerable antifungal activity and its effect is significantly superior to those of benzalkonium chloride, natamycin, and ketoconazole against ocular pathogenic filamentous fungi in vitro, deserving further investigation for treating fungal keratitis as a main drug.

Concepts: Fungus, Mycotoxin, Aspergillus, Ascomycota, Aspergillus oryzae, Fungi, Alternaria alternata, Chlorides


IgE sensitization to Aspergillus fumigatus and a positive sputum fungal culture result are common in patients with refractory asthma. It is not clear whether these patients would benefit from antifungal treatment.

Concepts: Asthma, Aspergillosis, Aspergillus, Aspergillus fumigatus, Aspergillus oryzae


Since our first report on the identification of the fungal type III polyketide synthase (PKS) genes csyA∼D in Aspergillus oryzae RIB40, type III PKS homologues have also been found in other fungal species. We previously reported the isolation and structural determination of csypyrone B1 as the main product of CsyB when inductively expressed in Aspergillus oryzae. Herein we report the isolation and identification of the two minor products of the csyB transformant in addition to csypyrone B1 as 4-(3-acetyl-4-hydroxy-2-oxo-2H-pyran-6-yl)butyric acid and 5-(3-acetyl-4-hydroxy-2-oxo-2H-pyran-6-yl)pentanoic acid. These compounds were named csypyrone B2 and B3, respectively, and both are homologues of main product csypyrone B1 with different side chain lengths. This result suggests that the carbon skeleton of the csypyrone B precursor is constructed by the condensation of fatty acyl-CoA and acetylmalonyl-CoA followed by pyrone formation. The alkyl side chain of the precursor may be oxidatively cleaved by enzyme(s) in the host fungus to give variations of csypyrone B with propanoic acid, butyric acid, or pentanoic acid side chains.

Concepts: Bacteria, Amino acid, Fungus, Acetic acid, Carboxylic acid, Ascomycota, Aspergillus oryzae, Butyric acid


A protease-producing fungus was isolated from an alkaline wastewater of chemical industries and identified as Trametes cingulata strain CTM10101 on the basis of the ITS rDNAgene-sequencing. The fungus was found to hyper-produce extracellular protease when it was grown at 30°C in potato-dextrose-broth (PDB) optimized media (13500U/ml). The pure serine protease isolated by Trametes cingulata (designated SPTC) was purified by ammonium sulfate precipitation-dialysis, heat-treatment and UNO S-1 FPLC cation-exchange chromatography. The physico-chemical characterization was also conducted. The MALDI-TOF/MS analysis revealed that the purified enzyme was a monomer with a molecular mass of 31405.16-Da. The enzyme had an NH2-terminal sequence of ALTTQTEAPWALGTVSHKGQAST, thus sharing high homology with those of fungal-proteases. The optimum pH and temperature values of its proteolytic activity were pH 9 and 60°C, respectively, and its half-life times at 60 and 70°C were 9and 5-h, respectively. It was completely inhibited by PMSF and DFP, which strongly suggested its belonging to the serine protease family. Compared to Flavourzyme(®)500L from Aspergillus oryzae and Thermolysin,typeX from Geobacillus stearothermophilus, SPTC displayed higher levels of hydrolysis, substrate specificity, and catalytic efficiency as well as elevated organic solvent tolerance and considerable detergent stability. Finally, SPTC could potentially be used in peptide synthesis and detergent formulations.

Concepts: Protein, Enzyme, Enzyme substrate, Chemistry, PH, Serine protease, Protease, Aspergillus oryzae


The rise in antibiotic resistance is a major threat for human health. Basidiomycete fungi represent an untapped source of underexploited antimicrobials, with pleuromutilin-a diterpene produced by Clitopilus passeckerianus-being the only antibiotic from these fungi leading to commercial derivatives. Here we report genetic characterisation of the steps involved in pleuromutilin biosynthesis, through rational heterologous expression in Aspergillus oryzae coupled with isolation and detailed structural elucidation of the pathway intermediates by spectroscopic methods and comparison with synthetic standards. A. oryzae was further established as a platform for bio-conversion of chemically modified analogues of pleuromutilin intermediates, and was employed to generate a semi-synthetic pleuromutilin derivative with enhanced antibiotic activity. These studies pave the way for future characterisation of biosynthetic pathways of other basidiomycete natural products in ascomycete heterologous hosts, and open up new possibilities of further chemical modification for the growing class of potent pleuromutilin antibiotics.

Concepts: Medicine, Bacteria, Fungus, Antibiotic resistance, Aspergillus, Ascomycota, Aspergillus oryzae, Mold


Resistance to infection is critically dependent on the ability of pattern recognition receptors to recognize microbial invasion and induce protective immune responses. One such family of receptors are the C-type lectins, which are central to antifungal immunity. These receptors activate key effector mechanisms upon recognition of conserved fungal cell-wall carbohydrates. However, several other immunologically active fungal ligands have been described; these include melanin, for which the mechanism of recognition is hitherto undefined. Here we identify a C-type lectin receptor, melanin-sensing C-type lectin receptor (MelLec), that has an essential role in antifungal immunity through recognition of the naphthalene-diol unit of 1,8-dihydroxynaphthalene (DHN)-melanin. MelLec recognizes melanin in conidial spores of Aspergillus fumigatus as well as in other DHN-melanized fungi. MelLec is ubiquitously expressed by CD31+endothelial cells in mice, and is also expressed by a sub-population of these cells that co-express epithelial cell adhesion molecule and are detected only in the lung and the liver. In mouse models, MelLec was required for protection against disseminated infection with A. fumigatus. In humans, MelLec is also expressed by myeloid cells, and we identified a single nucleotide polymorphism of this receptor that negatively affected myeloid inflammatory responses and significantly increased the susceptibility of stem-cell transplant recipients to disseminated Aspergillus infections. MelLec therefore recognizes an immunologically active component commonly found on fungi and has an essential role in protective antifungal immunity in both mice and humans.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, DNA, Bacteria, Cell biology, Immunology, Aspergillus oryzae


Fusidane-type antibiotics represented by helvolic acid, fusidic acid and cephalosporin P1 are a class of bacteriostatic agents, which have drawn renewed attention because they have no cross-resistance to commonly used antibiotics. However, their biosynthesis is poorly understood. Here, we perform a stepwise introduction of the nine genes from the proposed gene cluster for helvolic acid into Aspergillus oryzae NSAR1, which enables us to isolate helvolic acid (~20 mg L(-1)) and its 21 derivatives. Anti-Staphylococcus aureus assay reveals that the antibacterial activity of three intermediates is even stronger than that of helvolic acid. Notably, we observe an unusual C-4 demethylation process mediated by a promiscuous short-chain dehydrogenase/reductase (HelC) and a cytochrome P450 enzyme (HelB1), which is distinct from the common sterol biosynthesis. These studies have set the stage for using biosynthetic approaches to expand chemical diversity of fusidane-type antibiotics.

Concepts: Bacteria, Amino acid, Metabolism, Cytochrome P450, Steroid, Antibiotic, Aspergillus oryzae, Antibiotics


Aspergillus fumigatus is a mold that causes severe pulmonary infections. Our knowledge of how A. fumigatus growth is controlled in the respiratory tract is developing, but still limited. Alveolar macrophages, lung resident macrophages, and airway epithelial cells constitute the first lines of defense against inhaled A. fumigatus conidia. Subsequently, neutrophils and inflammatory CCR2+ monocytes are recruited to the respiratory tract to prevent fungal growth. However, the mechanism of neutrophil and macrophage recruitment to the respiratory tract after A. fumigatus exposure remains an area of ongoing investigation. Here we show that A. fumigatus pulmonary challenge induces expression of the inflammasome-dependent cytokines IL-1β and IL-18 within the first 12 hours, while IL-1α expression continually increases over at least the first 48 hours. Strikingly, Il1r1-deficient mice are highly susceptible to pulmonary A. fumigatus challenge exemplified by robust fungal proliferation in the lung parenchyma. Enhanced susceptibility of Il1r1-deficient mice correlated with defects in leukocyte recruitment and anti-fungal activity. Importantly, IL-1α rather than IL-1β was crucial for optimal leukocyte recruitment. IL-1α signaling enhanced the production of CXCL1. Moreover, CCR2+ monocytes are required for optimal early IL-1α and CXCL1 expression in the lungs, as selective depletion of these cells resulted in their diminished expression, which in turn regulated the early accumulation of neutrophils in the lung after A. fumigatus challenge. Enhancement of pulmonary neutrophil recruitment and anti-fungal activity by CXCL1 treatment could limit fungal growth in the absence of IL-1α signaling. In contrast to the role of IL-1α in neutrophil recruitment, the inflammasome and IL-1β were only essential for optimal activation of anti-fungal activity of macrophages. As such, Pycard-deficient mice are mildly susceptible to A. fumigatus infection. Taken together, our data reveal central, non-redundant roles for IL-1α and IL-1β in controlling A. fumigatus infection in the murine lung.

Concepts: Immune system, White blood cell, Monocyte, Lung, Macrophage, Epithelium, Neutrophil granulocyte, Aspergillus oryzae


Aspergillus fumigatus is a ubiquitous environmental mold and the leading cause of diverse human diseases ranging from allergenic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA) to invasive pulmonary aspergillosis (IPA). Experimental investigations of the biology and virulence of this opportunistic pathogen have historically used a few type strains; however, it is increasingly observed with this fungus that heterogeneity among isolates potentially confounds the use of these reference isolates. Illustrating this point, Kowalski et al. (mBio 7:e01515-16, 2016, demonstrated that variation in 16 environmental and clinical isolates of A. fumigatus correlated virulence with fitness in low oxygen, whereas Fuller et al. (mBio 7:e01517-16, 2016, showed wide variation in light responses at a physiological and protein functionality level in 15 A. fumigatus isolates. In both studies, two commonly used type strains, Af293 and CEA10, displayed significant differences in physiological responses to abiotic stimuli and virulence in a murine model of IPA.

Concepts: Infectious disease, Biology, Microbiology, Aspergillosis, Aspergillus, Aspergillus fumigatus, Aspergillus oryzae, Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis