Genome-Based Analysis of Verticillium Polyketide Synthase Gene Clusters

Biology (Basel). 2022 Aug 23;11(9):1252. doi: 10.3390/biology11091252.


Polyketides are structurally diverse and physiologically active secondary metabolites produced by many organisms, including fungi. The biosynthesis of polyketides from acyl-CoA thioesters is catalyzed by polyketide synthases, PKSs. Polyketides play roles including in cell protection against oxidative stress, non-constitutive (toxic) roles in cell membranes, and promoting the survival of the host organisms. The genus Verticillium comprises many species that affect a wide range of organisms including plants, insects, and other fungi. Many are known as causal agents of Verticillium wilt diseases in plants. In this study, a comparative genomics approach involving several Verticillium species led us to evaluate the potential of Verticillium species for producing polyketides and to identify putative polyketide biosynthesis gene clusters. The next step was to characterize them and predict the types of polyketide compounds they might produce. We used publicly available sequences from ten species of Verticillium including V. dahliae, V. longisporum, V. nonalfalfae, V. alfalfae, V. nubilum, V. zaregamsianum, V. klebahnii, V. tricorpus, V. isaacii, and V. albo-atrum to identify and characterize PKS gene clusters by utilizing a range of bioinformatic and phylogenetic approaches. We found 32 putative PKS genes and possible clusters in the genomes of Verticillium species. All the clusters appear to be complete and functional. In addition, at least five clusters including putative DHN-melanin-, cytochalasin-, fusarielien-, fujikurin-, and lijiquinone-like compounds may belong to the active PKS repertoire of Verticillium. These results will pave the way for further functional studies to understand the role of these clusters.

Keywords: PKS; Verticillium; cluster; genomics; phylogeny.