Crosstalk of Cellulose and Mannan Perception Pathways Leads to Inhibition of Cellulase Production in Several Filamentous Fungi

mBio. 2019 Jul 2;10(4):e00277-19. doi: 10.1128/mBio.00277-19.


It is essential for microbes to acquire information about their environment. Fungi use soluble degradation products of plant cell wall components to understand the substrate composition they grow on. Individual perception pathways have been well described. However, the interconnections between pathways remain poorly understood. In the present work, we provide evidence of crosstalk between the perception pathways for cellulose and the hemicellulose mannan being conserved in several filamentous fungi and leading to the inhibition of cellulase expression. We used the functional genomics tools available for Neurospora crassa to investigate this overlap at the molecular level. Crosstalk and competitive inhibition could be identified both during uptake by cellodextrin transporters and intracellularly. Importantly, the overlap is independent of CRE-1-mediated catabolite repression. These results provide novel insights into the regulatory networks of lignocellulolytic fungi and will contribute to the rational optimization of fungal enzyme production for efficient plant biomass depolymerization and utilization.IMPORTANCE In fungi, the production of enzymes for polysaccharide degradation is controlled by complex signaling networks. Previously, these networks were studied in response to simple sugars or single polysaccharides. Here, we tackled for the first time the molecular interplay between two seemingly unrelated perception pathways: those for cellulose and the hemicellulose (gluco)mannan. We identified a so far unknown competitive inhibition between the respective degradation products acting as signaling molecules. Competition was detected both at the level of the uptake and intracellularly, upstream of the main transcriptional regulator CLR-2. Our findings provide novel insights into the molecular communication between perception pathways. Also, they present possible targets for the improvement of industrial strains for higher cellulase production through the engineering of mannan insensitivity.

Keywords: Neurospora crassa; cellulose/hemicellulose signaling; competitive inhibition; filamentous fungi; plant cell wall degradation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Catabolite Repression
  • Cellulase / biosynthesis*
  • Cellulose / metabolism*
  • Down-Regulation*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal / drug effects*
  • Gene Regulatory Networks
  • Genomics
  • Mannans / metabolism*
  • Neurospora crassa / enzymology
  • Neurospora crassa / genetics
  • Neurospora crassa / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*


  • Mannans
  • Cellulose
  • Cellulase