Aspergillus aculeatus, a filamentous fungus belonging to the Aspergillus clade Nigri, is an industrial workhorse in enzyme production. Recently we reported a number of secondary metabolites from this fungus; however, its genetic potential for the production of secondary metabolites is vast. In this study we identified a 6-methylsalicylic acid (6-MSA) synthase from A. aculeatus, and verified its functionality by episomal expression in A. aculeatus and heterologous expression in A. nidulans. Feeding studies with fully (13) C-labeled 6-MSA revealed that 6-MSA is incorporated into aculinic acid, which further incorporates into three compounds that we name aculins A and B, and epi-aculin A, described here for the first time. Based on NMR data and bioinformatic studies we propose the structures of the compounds as well as a biosynthetic pathway leading to formation of aculins from 6-MSA.
Keywords: Aspergillus; biosynthesis; methylsalicylic acid; natural products; polyketide; terpene.
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