Motif-independent Prediction of a Secondary Metabolism Gene Cluster Using Comparative Genomics: Application to Sequenced Genomes of Aspergillus and Ten Other Filamentous Fungal Species

DNA Res. 2014 Aug;21(4):447-57. doi: 10.1093/dnares/dsu010. Epub 2014 Apr 11.


Despite their biological importance, a significant number of genes for secondary metabolite biosynthesis (SMB) remain undetected due largely to the fact that they are highly diverse and are not expressed under a variety of cultivation conditions. Several software tools including SMURF and antiSMASH have been developed to predict fungal SMB gene clusters by finding core genes encoding polyketide synthase, nonribosomal peptide synthetase and dimethylallyltryptophan synthase as well as several others typically present in the cluster. In this work, we have devised a novel comparative genomics method to identify SMB gene clusters that is independent of motif information of the known SMB genes. The method detects SMB gene clusters by searching for a similar order of genes and their presence in nonsyntenic blocks. With this method, we were able to identify many known SMB gene clusters with the core genes in the genomic sequences of 10 filamentous fungi. Furthermore, we have also detected SMB gene clusters without core genes, including the kojic acid biosynthesis gene cluster of Aspergillus oryzae. By varying the detection parameters of the method, a significant difference in the sequence characteristics was detected between the genes residing inside the clusters and those outside the clusters.

Keywords: bioinformatics; filamentous fungi; secondary metabolism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aspergillus / genetics*
  • Genome, Fungal*
  • Genomics
  • Multigene Family*
  • Secondary Metabolism / genetics*
  • Software