Characterization of a silent azaphilone biosynthesis gene cluster in Aspergillus terreus NIH 2624

Fungal Genet Biol. 2022 May;160:103694. doi: 10.1016/j.fgb.2022.103694. Epub 2022 Apr 6.


Filamentous fungal secondary metabolites are an important source of bioactive components. Genome sequencing ofAspergillus terreusrevealed many silent secondary metabolite biosynthetic gene clusters presumed to be involved in producing secondary metabolites. Activation of silent gene clusters through overexpressing a pathway-specific regulator is an effective avenue for discovering novel fungal secondary metabolites. Replacement of the native promoter of the pathway-specific activator with the inducible Tet-on system to activate thetazpathway led to the discovery of a series of azaphilone secondary metabolites, among which azaterrilone A (1) was purified and identified for the first time. Genetic deletion of core PKS genes and transcriptional analysis further characterized thetazgene cluster to consist of 16 genes with the NR-PKS and the HR-PKS collaborating in a convergent mode. Based on the putative gene functions and the characterized compounds structural information, a biosynthetic pathway of azaterrilone A (1) was proposed.

Keywords: Aspergillus terreus; Azaphilone; Biosynthesis; Inducible promoter; Polyketide synthase; Secondary metabolites; Tet-on system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aspergillus* / genetics
  • Aspergillus* / metabolism
  • Benzopyrans
  • Multigene Family*
  • Pigments, Biological / genetics
  • Pigments, Biological / metabolism
  • Polyketide Synthases / genetics
  • Polyketide Synthases / metabolism


  • Benzopyrans
  • Pigments, Biological
  • azaphilone
  • Polyketide Synthases

Supplementary concepts

  • Aspergillus terreus