Evidence for an arginine-dependent route for the synthesis of NO in the model filamentous fungus Aspergillus nidulans

Environ Microbiol. 2021 Nov;23(11):6924-6939. doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.15733. Epub 2021 Sep 5.


Nitric oxide (NO) is a signalling molecule in eukaryotic and prokaryotic organisms. NO levels transiently boost upon induction of conidiation in Aspergillus nidulans. Only one pathway for NO synthesis involving nitrate reductase has been reported in filamentous fungi so far, but this does not satisfy all the NO produced in fungal cells. Here we provide evidence for at least one additional biosynthetic pathway in A. nidulans involving l-arginine or an intermediate metabolite as a substrate. Under certain growth conditions, the addition of l-arginine to liquid media elicited a burst of NO that was not dependent on any of the urea cycle genes. The NO levels were controlled by the metabolically available arginine, which was regulated by mobilization from the vacuoles and during development. In vitro assays with protein extracts and amino acid profiling strongly suggested the existence of an arginine-dependent NO pathway analogous to the mammalian NO synthase. Addition of polyamines induced NO synthesis, and mutations in the polyamine synthesis genes puA and spdA reduced the production of NO. In conclusion, here we report an additional pathway for the synthesis of NO in A. nidulans using urea cycle intermediates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arginine / metabolism
  • Aspergillus nidulans* / genetics
  • Aspergillus nidulans* / metabolism
  • Mammals / metabolism
  • Nitrate Reductase / metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism


  • Nitric Oxide
  • Arginine
  • Nitrate Reductase