Allergens/Antigens, toxins and polyketides of important Aspergillus species

Indian J Clin Biochem. 2011 Apr;26(2):104-19. doi: 10.1007/s12291-011-0131-5. Epub 2011 May 19.

Abstract

The medical, agricultural and biotechnological importance of the primitive eukaryotic microorganisms, the Fungi was recognized way back in 1920. Among various groups of fungi, the Aspergillus species are studied in great detail using advances in genomics and proteomics to unravel biological and molecular mechanisms in these fungi. Aspergillus fumigatus, Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus niger, Aspergillus parasiticus, Aspergillus nidulans and Aspergillus terreus are some of the important species relevant to human, agricultural and biotechnological applications. The potential of Aspergillus species to produce highly diversified complex biomolecules such as multifunctional proteins (allergens, antigens, enzymes) and polyketides is fascinating and demands greater insight into the understanding of these fungal species for application to human health. Recently a regulator gene for secondary metabolites, LaeA has been identified. Gene mining based on LaeA has facilitated new metabolites with antimicrobial activity such as emericellamides and antitumor activity such as terrequinone A from A. nidulans. Immunoproteomic approach was reported for identification of few novel allergens for A. fumigatus. In this context, the review is focused on recent developments in allergens, antigens, structural and functional diversity of the polyketide synthases that produce polyketides of pharmaceutical and biological importance. Possible antifungal drug targets for development of effective antifungal drugs and new strategies for development of molecular diagnostics are considered.

Keywords: Allergens; Aspergillus species; Polyketides.