Heteroexpression of Aspergillus nidulans laeA in Marine-Derived Fungi Triggers Upregulation of Secondary Metabolite Biosynthetic Genes

Mar Drugs. 2020 Dec 18;18(12):652. doi: 10.3390/md18120652.


Fungi are a prospective resource of bioactive compounds, but conventional methods of drug discovery are not effective enough to fully explore their metabolic potential. This study aimed to develop an easily attainable method to elicit the metabolic potential of fungi using Aspergillus nidulans laeA as a transcription regulation tool. In this study, functional analysis of Aspergillus nidulans laeA (AnLaeA) and Aspergillus sp. Z5 laeA (Az5LaeA) was done in the fungus Aspergillus sp. Z5. Heterologous AnLaeA-and native Az5LaeA-overexpression exhibited similar phenotypic effects and caused an increase in production of a bioactive compound diorcinol in Aspergillus sp. Z5, which proved the conserved function of this global regulator. In particular, heteroexpression of AnLaeA showed a significant impact on the expression of velvet complex genes, diorcinol synthesis-related genes, and different transcription factors (TFs). Moreover, heteroexpression of AnLaeA influenced the whole genome gene expression of Aspergillus sp. Z5 and triggered the upregulation of many genes. Overall, these findings suggest that heteroexpression of AnLaeA in fungi serves as a simple and easy method to explore their metabolic potential. In relation to this, AnLaeA was overexpressed in the fungus Penicillium sp. LC1-4, which resulted in increased production of quinolactacin A.

Keywords: Aspergillus; LaeA; fungi; heteroexpression; secondary metabolites.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aspergillus nidulans / genetics*
  • Aspergillus nidulans / metabolism*
  • Computational Biology / methods
  • Conus Snail
  • Fungal Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Fungal Proteins / genetics
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal / physiology*
  • Secondary Metabolism / physiology*
  • Up-Regulation / physiology*


  • Fungal Proteins