Genomics reveals traces of fungal phenylpropanoid-flavonoid metabolic pathway in the f ilamentous fungus Aspergillus oryzae.
Fungal secondary metabolites constitute a wide variety of compounds which either play a vital role in agricultural, pharmaceutical and industrial contexts, or have devastating effects on agriculture, animal and human affairs by virtue of their toxigenicity. Owing to their beneficial and deleterious characteristics, these complex compounds and the genes responsible for their synthesis have been the subjects of extensive investigation by microbiologists and pharmacologists. A majority of the fungal secondary metabolic genes are classified as type I polyketide synthases (PKS) which are often clustered with other secondary metabolism related genes. In this review we discuss on the significance of our recent discovery of chalcone synthase (CHS) genes belonging to the type III PKS superfamily in an industrially important fungus, Aspergillus oryzae. CHS genes are known to play a vital role in the biosynthesis of flavonoids in plants. A comparative genome analyses revealed the unique character of A. oryzae with four CHS-like genes (csyA, csyB, csyC and csyD) amongst other Aspergilli (Aspergillus nidulans and Aspergillus fumigatus) which contained none of the CHS-like genes. Some other fungi such as Neurospora crassa, Fusarium graminearum, Magnaporthe grisea, Podospora anserina and Phanerochaete chrysosporium also contained putative type III PKSs, with a phylogenic distinction from bacteria and plants. The enzymatically active nature of these newly discovered homologues is expected owing to the conservation in the catalytic residues across the different species of plants and fungi, and also by the fact that a majority of these genes (csyA, csyB and csyD) were expressed in A. oryzae. While this finding brings filamentous fungi closer to plants and bacteria which until recently were the only ones considered to possess the type III PKSs, the presence of putative genes encoding other principal enzymes involved in the phenylpropanoid and flavonoid biosynthesis (viz., phenylalanine ammonia-lyase, cinnamic acid hydroxylase and p-coumarate CoA ligase) in the A. oryzae genome undoubtedly prove the extent of its metabolic diversity. Since many of these genes have not been identified earlier, knowledge on their corresponding products or activities remain undeciphered. In future, it is anticipated that these enzymes may be reasonable targets for metabolic engineering in fungi to produce agriculturally and nutritionally important metabolites.
Juvvadi, PR; Seshime, Y; Kitamoto, K
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