Sesterterpene ophiobolin biosynthesis involving multiple gene clusters in Aspergillus ustus

Sci Rep. 2016 Jun 7;6:27181. doi: 10.1038/srep27181.


Terpenoids are the most diverse and abundant natural products among which sesterterpenes account for less than 2%, with very few reports on their biosynthesis. Ophiobolins are tricyclic 5-8-5 ring sesterterpenes with potential pharmaceutical application. Aspergillus ustus 094102 from mangrove rizhosphere produces ophiobolin and other terpenes. We obtained five gene cluster knockout mutants, with altered ophiobolin yield using genome sequencing and in silico analysis, combined with in vivo genetic manipulation. Involvement of the five gene clusters in ophiobolin synthesis was confirmed by investigation of the five key terpene synthesis relevant enzymes in each gene cluster, either by gene deletion and complementation or in vitro verification of protein function. The results demonstrate that ophiobolin skeleton biosynthesis involves five gene clusters, which are responsible for C15, C20, C25, and C30 terpenoid biosynthesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aspergillus / genetics*
  • Aspergillus / metabolism
  • Biosynthetic Pathways*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Fungal Proteins / genetics*
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Knockout Techniques
  • Gene Regulatory Networks
  • Genome, Fungal
  • Multigene Family
  • Mutation
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA / methods
  • Sesterterpenes / biosynthesis*
  • Sesterterpenes / chemistry


  • Fungal Proteins
  • Sesterterpenes
  • ophiobolins