A novel motif in fungal class 1 histone deacetylases is essential for growth and development of Aspergillus

Mol Biol Cell. 2010 Jan 15;21(2):345-53. doi: 10.1091/mbc.e09-08-0750. Epub 2009 Nov 25.


Acetylation of the N-terminal tails of core histones is an important regulatory mechanism in eukaryotic organisms. In filamentous fungi, little is known about the enzymes that modify histone tails. However, it is increasingly evident that histone deacetylases and histone acetyltransferases are critical factors for the regulation of genes involved in fungal pathogenicity, stress response, and production of secondary metabolites such as antibiotics or fungal toxins. Here, we show that depletion of RpdA, an RPD3-type histone deacetylase of Aspergillus nidulans, leads to a pronounced reduction of growth and sporulation of the fungus. We demonstrate that a so far unnoticed motif in the C terminus of fungal RpdA histone deacetylases is required for the catalytic activity of the enzyme and consequently is essential for the viability of A. nidulans. Moreover, we provide evidence that this motif is also crucial for the survival of other, if not all, filamentous fungi, including pathogens such as Aspergillus fumigatus or Cochliobolus carbonum. Thus, the extended C terminus of RpdA-type enzymes represents a promising target for fungal-specific histone deacetylase-inhibitors that may have potential as novel antifungal compounds with medical and agricultural applications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Aspergillus fumigatus / enzymology
  • Aspergillus nidulans / cytology
  • Aspergillus nidulans / enzymology*
  • Aspergillus nidulans / growth & development*
  • Conserved Sequence
  • Fungal Proteins / chemistry
  • Fungal Proteins / genetics
  • Fungal Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism*
  • Genotype
  • Histone Deacetylases / chemistry*
  • Histone Deacetylases / metabolism*
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phenotype
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Fungal Proteins
  • Histones
  • Histone Deacetylases