The transformation of steroids by microorganisms is widely used in medical biotechnology. A huge group of filamentous fungi is one of the most promising taxa for screening new biocatalytic reactions in order to obtain pharmaceutically significant steroids. In this work, we screened 10 filamentous fungi-destructors of egg tempera for the ability to biotransform androst-4-en-3,17-dione (AD) during cultivation in a liquid nutrient medium or in a buffer solution. These taxonomically unrelated strains, belonging to the classes Eurotiomycetes, Dothideomycetes and Sordariomycetes, are dominant representatives of the microbiome from halls where works of tempera painting are stored in the State Tretyakov Gallery (STG, Moscow, Russia). Since the binder of tempera paints, egg yolk, contains about 2% cholesterol, these degrading fungi appear to be a promising group for screening for steroid converting activity. It turned out that all the studied fungi-destructors are able to transform AD. Some strains showed transformation efficiency close to the industrial strain Curvularia lunata RNCIM F-981. In total, 33 steroids formed during the transformation of AD were characterized, for 19 of them the structure was established by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry analysis. In this work, we have shown for the first time that fungi-destructors of tempera paintings can efficiently transform steroids.
Keywords: androst-4-en-3,17-dione; biodeterioration of tempera painting; cholesterol; filamentous fungi; steroid biotransformation.