Overexpression of a novel gene Aokap2 affects the growth and kojic acid production in Aspergillus oryzae

Mol Biol Rep. 2022 Apr;49(4):2745-2754. doi: 10.1007/s11033-021-07084-4. Epub 2022 Jan 16.


Background: Aspergillus oryzae is an industrially important filamentous fungus for the production of fermentative food, commercial enzyme and valuable secondary metabolites. Although the whole genome of A. oryzae has been sequenced in 2005, there is currently not enough research on functional genes that affect the growth and secondary metabolites of A. oryzae. This study aimed to identify and characterize functional genes involved in the growth and secondary metabolites of A. oryzae.

Methods and results: Our previous work on the developmental transcriptome of A. oryzae found that an uncharacterized gene Aokap2 was repressed during the development of A. oryzae. In this study, the gene expression pattern was verified by qRT-PCR. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that AoKAP2 has the species specificity of Aspergillus. Furthermore, Aokap2 was overexpressed using the A. oryzae amyB promoter and overexpression of Aokap2 caused the inhibition in mycelium growth, conidia formation and biomass. Additionally, overexpression of Aokap2 increased the production of kojic acid. In accordance with the enhanced kojic acid, the overexpression of Aokap2 led to elevated transcription levels of the key kojic acid synthesis gene kojA and the global transcriptional regulator gene of secondary metabolism laeA. Moreover, the expression of Aokap2 was down-regulated significantly in the laeA mutant. Meanwhile, overexpression of Aokap2 in the kojA disrupted strain resulted in a ΔkojA strain-like phenotype with significant inhibition in kojic acid production.

Conclusion: Taken together, these data suggest that a novel gene Aokap2 is involved in the growth and overexpression of Aokap2 increased kojic acid production through affecting the expression of laeA and kojA. The identification of Aokap2 provides a new target for genetic modification of the growth and the production of kojic acid in A. oryzae.

Keywords: Aspergillus oryzae; Growth and development; Kojic acid; Overexpression.

MeSH terms

  • Aspergillus oryzae* / genetics
  • Fungal Proteins / genetics
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism
  • Phylogeny
  • Pyrones / metabolism


  • Fungal Proteins
  • Pyrones
  • kojic acid