Background: The identification and characterization of the transcriptional regulatory networks governing the physiology and adaptation of microbial cells is a key step in understanding their behaviour. One such wide-domain regulatory circuit, essential to all cells, is carbon catabolite repression (CCR): it allows the cell to prefer some carbon sources, whose assimilation is of high nutritional value, over less profitable ones. In lower multicellular fungi, the C2H2 zinc finger CreA/CRE1 protein has been shown to act as the transcriptional repressor in this process. However, the complete list of its gene targets is not known.
Results: Here, we deciphered the CRE1 regulatory range in the model cellulose and hemicellulose-degrading fungus Trichoderma reesei (anamorph of Hypocrea jecorina) by profiling transcription in a wild-type and a delta-cre1 mutant strain on glucose at constant growth rates known to repress and de-repress CCR-affected genes. Analysis of genome-wide microarrays reveals 2.8% of transcripts whose expression was regulated in at least one of the four experimental conditions: 47.3% of which were repressed by CRE1, whereas 29.0% were actually induced by CRE1, and 17.2% only affected by the growth rate but CRE1 independent. Among CRE1 repressed transcripts, genes encoding unknown proteins and transport proteins were overrepresented. In addition, we found CRE1-repression of nitrogenous substances uptake, components of chromatin remodeling and the transcriptional mediator complex, as well as developmental processes.
Conclusions: Our study provides the first global insight into the molecular physiological response of a multicellular fungus to carbon catabolite regulation and identifies several not yet known targets in a growth-controlled environment.