Int J Mol Sci. 2016 Jun 29;17(7). pii: E1031. doi: 10.3390/ijms17071031.

A WDR Gene Is a Conserved Member of a Chitin Synthase Gene Cluster and Influences the Cell Wall in Aspergillus nidulans.

WD40 repeat (WDR) proteins are pleiotropic molecular hubs. We identify a WDR gene that is a conserved genomic neighbor of a chitin synthase gene in Ascomycetes. The WDR gene is unique to fungi and plants, and was called Fungal Plant WD (FPWD). FPWD is within a cell wall metabolism gene cluster in the Ascomycetes (Pezizomycotina) comprising chsD, a Chs activator and a GH17 glucanase. The FPWD, AN1556.2 locus was deleted in Aspergillus nidulans strain SAA.111 by gene replacement and only heterokaryon transformants were obtained. The re-annotation of Aspergilli genomes shows that AN1556.2 consists of two tightly linked separate genes, i.e., the WDR gene and a putative beta-flanking gene of unknown function. The WDR and the beta-flanking genes are conserved genomic neighbors localized within a recently identified metabolic cell wall gene cluster in genomes of Aspergilli. The heterokaryons displayed increased susceptibility to drugs affecting the cell wall, and their phenotypes, observed by optical, confocal, scanning electron and atomic force microscopy, suggest cell wall alterations. Quantitative real-time PCR shows altered expression of some cell wall-related genes. The possible implications on cell wall biosynthesis are discussed.

Guerriero G1,2, Silvestrini L3, Obersriebnig M4, Hausman JF5, Strauss J6,7, Ezcurra I8.

Valproic Acid Induces Antimicrobial Compound Production in Doratomyces microspores.

Front Microbiol. 2016 Apr 13;7:510. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2016.00510. eCollection 2016.

One of the biggest challenges in public health is the rising number of antibiotic resistant pathogens and the lack of novel antibiotics. In recent years there is a rising focus on fungi as sources of antimicrobial compounds due to their ability to produce a large variety of bioactive compounds and the observation that virtually every fungus may still contain yet unknown so called "cryptic," often silenced, compounds. These putative metabolites could include novel bioactive compounds. Considerable effort is spent on methods to induce production of these "cryptic" metabolites. One approach is the use of small molecule effectors, potentially influencing chromatin landscape in fungi. We observed that the supernatant of the fungus Doratomyces (D.) microsporus treated with valproic acid (VPA) displayed antimicrobial activity against Staphylococcus (S.) aureus and two methicillin resistant clinical S. aureus isolates. VPA treatment resulted in enhanced production of seven antimicrobial compounds: cyclo-(L-proline-L-methionine) (cPM), p-hydroxybenzaldehyde, cyclo-(phenylalanine-proline) (cFP), indole-3-carboxylic acid, phenylacetic acid (PAA) and indole-3-acetic acid. The production of the antimicrobial compound phenyllactic acid was exclusively detectable after VPA treatment. Furthermore three compounds, cPM, cFP, and PAA, were able to boost the antimicrobial activity of other antimicrobial compounds. cPM, for the first time isolated from fungi, and to a lesser extent PAA, are even able to decrease the minimal inhibitory concentration of ampicillin in MRSA strains. In conclusion we could show in this study that VPA treatment is a potent tool for induction of "cryptic" antimicrobial compound production in fungi, and that the induced compounds are not exclusively linked to the secondary metabolism. Furthermore this is the first discovery of the rare diketopiperazine cPM in fungi. Additionally we could demonstrate that cPM and PAA boost antibiotic activity against antibiotic resistant strains, suggesting a possible application in combinatorial antibiotic treatment against resistant pathogens.

Zutz C1, Bacher M2, Parich A3, Kluger B4, Gacek-Matthews A5, Schuhmacher R3, Wagner M6, Rychli K6, Strauss J7.

KdmA, a histone H3 demethylase with bipartite function, differentially regulates primary and secondary metabolism in Aspergillus nidulans.

Mol Microbiol. 2015 Feb 24. doi: 10.1111/mmi.12977. [Epub ahead of print]

A. nidulans kdmA encodes a member of the KDM4 family of jumonji histone demethylase proteins, highly similar to metazoan orthologues both within functional domains and in domain architecture. This family of proteins exhibits demethylase activity toward lysines 9 and 36 of histone H3 and plays a prominent role in gene expression and chromosome structure in many species. Mass spectrometry mapping of A. nidulans histones revealed that around 3% of bulk histone H3 carried trimethylated H3K9 (H3K9me3) but more than 90% of histones carried either H3K36me2 or H3K36me3. KdmA functions as H3K36me3 demethylase and has roles in transcriptional regulation. Genetic manipulation of KdmA levels is tolerated without obvious effect in most conditions, but strong phenotypes are evident under various conditions of stress. Transcriptome analysis revealed that - in submerged early and late cultures - between 25% and 30% of the genome is under KdmA influence, respectively. Transcriptional imbalance in the kdmA deletion mutant may contribute to the lethal phenotype observed upon exposure of mutant cells to low-density visible light on solid medium. While KdmA acts as transcriptional co-repressor of primary metabolism (PM) genes it is required for full expression of several genes involved in biosynthesis of secondary metabolites (SM).

Gacek-Matthews A1, Noble LM, Gruber C, Berger H, Sulyok M, Marcos AT, Strauss J, Andrianopoulos A.