Gene expression using alternative transcription start sites (TSSs) is an important transcriptional regulatory mechanism for environmental responses in eukaryotes. Here, we identify two alternative TSSs in the enolase-encoding gene (enoA) in Aspergillus oryzae, an industrially important filamentous fungus. TSS use in enoA is strictly dependent on the difference in glycolytic and gluconeogenic carbon sources. Transcription from the upstream TSS (uTSS) or downstream TSS (dTSS) predominantly occurs under gluconeogenic or glycolytic conditions, respectively. In addition to enoA, most glycolytic genes involved in reversible reactions possess alternative TSSs. The fbaA gene, which encodes fructose-bisphosphate aldolase, also shows stringent alternative TSS selection, similar to enoA. Alignment of promoter sequences of enolase-encoding genes in Aspergillus predicted two conserved regions that contain a putative cis-element required for enoA transcription from each TSS. However, uTSS-mediated transcription of the acuN gene, an enoA ortholog in Aspergillus nidulans, is not strictly dependent on carbon source, unlike enoA. Furthermore, enoA transcript levels in glycolytic conditions are higher than in gluconeogenic conditions. Conversely, acuN is more highly transcribed in gluconeogenic conditions. This suggests that the stringent usage of alternative TSSs and higher transcription in glycolytic conditions in enoA may reflect that the A. oryzae evolutionary genetic background was domesticated by exclusive growth in starch-rich environments. These findings provide novel insights into the complexity and diversity of transcriptional regulation of glycolytic/gluconeogenic genes among Aspergilli.
Keywords: AcuK/AcuM; Alternative transcription start site; Aspergillus oryzae; Enolase; Gluconeogenesis; Glycolytic gene.