Tentoxin, a cyclic tetrapeptide produced by several Alternaria species, inhibits the F₁-ATPase activity of chloroplasts, resulting in chlorosis in sensitive plants. In this study, we report two clustered genes, encoding a putative non-ribosome peptide synthetase (NRPS) TES and a cytochrome P450 protein TES1, that are required for tentoxin biosynthesis in Alternaria alternata strain ZJ33, which was isolated from blighted leaves of Eupatorium adenophorum. Using a pair of primers designed according to the consensus sequences of the adenylation domain of NRPSs, two fragments containing putative adenylation domains were amplified from A. alternata ZJ33, and subsequent PCR analyses demonstrated that these fragments belonged to the same NRPS coding sequence. With no introns, TES consists of a single 15,486 base pair open reading frame encoding a predicted 5161 amino acid protein. Meanwhile, the TES1 gene is predicted to contain five introns and encode a 506 amino acid protein. The TES protein is predicted to be comprised of four peptide synthase modules with two additional N-methylation domains, and the number and arrangement of the modules in TES were consistent with the number and arrangement of the amino acid residues of tentoxin, respectively. Notably, both TES and TES1 null mutants generated via homologous recombination failed to produce tentoxin. This study provides the first evidence concerning the biosynthesis of tentoxin in A. alternata.
Keywords: Alternaria alternata; cytochrome P450; nonribosome peptide synthetase; tentoxin.