Signature-tagged and directed mutagenesis identify PABA synthetase as essential for Aspergillus fumigatus pathogenicity

Mol Microbiol. 2000 Jun;36(6):1371-80. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2958.2000.01953.x.


Signature-tagged mutagenesis (STM) is a method that has been used to screen for genes required for in vivo survival of pathogenic bacteria, but has not been used to investigate a eukaryotic pathogen in an animal model of disease. We have adapted STM to identify genes required for in vivo growth of the opportunistic fungal pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus. Using a mouse model of invasive pulmonary aspergillosis, we have isolated several mutant strains with defects in their ability to replicate in vivo. One strain unable to cause lethal infection was further characterized and found to have an insertion into the promoter of a gene (pabaA) encoding para-aminobenzoic acid synthetase, an enzyme catalyzing a late step in the biosynthesis of folate. The complete inability of this strain, and other pabaA- strains constructed in this study by targeted gene deletion, to cause lethal infection in mice confirms the importance of the folate synthesis pathway for in vivo survival of this pathogen. The successful application of STM to A. fumigatus demonstrates that in vivo genetic analysis of eukaryotic pathogens is feasible and could result in the identification of potential targets, such as para-aminobenzoic acid synthetase, for novel antifungal therapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aspergillosis / microbiology*
  • Aspergillus fumigatus / enzymology*
  • Aspergillus fumigatus / genetics
  • Aspergillus fumigatus / isolation & purification
  • Aspergillus fumigatus / pathogenicity*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gene Library
  • Genes, Fungal
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional
  • Transaminases / genetics
  • Transaminases / metabolism*
  • Virulence


  • PABA synthase
  • Transaminases