Phylogenomic analysis of non-ribosomal peptide synthetases in the genus Aspergillus

Gene. 2006 Nov 15:383:24-32. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2006.07.008. Epub 2006 Jul 21.


Fungi from the genus Aspergillus are important saprophytes and opportunistic human fungal pathogens that contribute in these and other diverse ways to human well-being. Part of their impact on human well-being stems from the production of small molecular weight secondary metabolites, which may contribute to the ability of these fungi to cause invasive fungal infections and allergic diseases. In this study, we identified one group of enzymes responsible for secondary metabolite production in five Aspergillus species, the non-ribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPS). Hidden Markov models were used to search the genome databases of A. fumigatus, A. flavus, A. terreus, A. nidulans, and A. oryzae for domains conserved in NRPS proteins. A genealogy of adenylation domains was utilized to identify orthologous and unique NRPS among the Aspergillus species examined, as well as gain an understanding of the potential evolution of Aspergillus NRPS. mRNA abundance of the 14 NRPS identified in the A. fumigatus genome was analyzed using real-time reverse transcriptase PCR in different environmental conditions to gain a preliminary understanding of the possible functions of the NRPSs' peptide products. Our results suggest that Aspergillus species contain conserved and unique NRPS genes with a complex evolutionary history. This result suggests that the genus Aspergillus produces a substantial diversity of non-ribosomally synthesized peptides. Further analysis of these genes and their peptide products may identify important roles for secondary metabolites produced by NRPS in Aspergillus physiology, ecology, and fungal pathogenicity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Aspergillus / classification
  • Aspergillus / enzymology*
  • Aspergillus / genetics*
  • Aspergillus / pathogenicity
  • Genes, Fungal
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Peptide Synthases / chemistry
  • Peptide Synthases / classification
  • Peptide Synthases / genetics*
  • Phylogeny
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • RNA, Fungal / genetics
  • RNA, Fungal / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid


  • RNA, Fungal
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Peptide Synthases