Aspergillus nidulans verA is required for production of the mycotoxin sterigmatocystin

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NP Keller; NJ Kantz; TH Adams

Type of Document:
Scholarly Article


Applied and Environmental Microbiology

Date of Publication:

Place of Publication:
Not Available


Abstract: Aspergillus nidulans produces the carcinogenic mycotoxin sterigmatocystin (ST), the next-to-last precursor in

the aflatoxin (AF) biosynthetic pathway found in the closely related fungi AspergiUlus flavus and Aspergillus

parasiticus. We identified and characterized an A. nidulans gene, verA, that is required for converting the AF

precursor versicolorin A to ST. verA is closely related to several polyketide biosynthetic genes involved in

polyketide production in Streptomyces spp. and exhibits extended sequence similarity to A. parasiticus ver-), a

gene proposed to encode an enzyme involved in converting versicolorin A to ST. By performing a sequence

analysis of the region 3′ to verA, we identified two additional open reading frames, designated ORF1 and ORF2. ORF2 is closely related to a number of cytochrome P-450 monooxygenases, while ORF1 shares identity with the gamma subunit of translation elongation factor 1. Given that several steps in the ST-AF pathway may require monooxygenase activity and that AF biosynthetic genes are clustered in A. flavus and A. parasiticus, we suggest that verA may be part of a cluster of genes required for ST biosynthesis. We disrupted the verA coding region by inserting the A. nidulans argB gene into the center of the coding region and transformed an A. nidulans argB2 mutant to arginine prototrophy. Seven transformants that produced DNA patterns indicative of a verA disruption event were grown under ST-inducing conditions, and all of the transformants produced versicolorin A but negligible amounts of ST (200-fold to almost 1,000-fold less than the wild type), confirming the hypothesis that verA encodes an enzyme necessary for converting versicolorin A to ST.

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