Upstream Regulation of Development and Secondary Metabolism in Aspergillus Species

Cells. 2022 Dec 20;12(1):2. doi: 10.3390/cells12010002.


In filamentous fungal Aspergillus species, growth, development, and secondary metabolism are genetically programmed biological processes, which require precise coordination of diverse signaling elements, transcription factors (TFs), upstream and downstream regulators, and biosynthetic genes. For the last few decades, regulatory roles of these controllers in asexual/sexual development and primary/secondary metabolism of Aspergillus species have been extensively studied. Among a wide spectrum of regulators, a handful of global regulators govern upstream regulation of development and metabolism by directly and/or indirectly affecting the expression of various genes including TFs. In this review, with the model fungus Aspergillus nidulans as the central figure, we summarize the most well-studied main upstream regulators and their regulatory roles. Specifically, we present key functions of heterotrimeric G proteins and G protein-coupled receptors in signal transduction), the velvet family proteins governing development and metabolism, LaeA as a global regulator of secondary metabolism, and NsdD, a key GATA-type TF, affecting development and secondary metabolism and provide a snapshot of overall upstream regulatory processes underlying growth, development, and metabolism in Aspergillus fungi.

Keywords: Aspergillus; G proteins; NsdD; development; secondary metabolism; upstream regulators; velvet regulators.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aspergillus nidulans* / genetics
  • Fungal Proteins* / genetics
  • Fungal Proteins* / metabolism
  • Secondary Metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Fungal Proteins
  • Transcription Factors

Grant support

This work was supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the National Institute of Agricultural Sciences (PJ015298) to J.-H.Y., United States Department of Agriculture and Hatch project (7000326) to J.-H.Y., and Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (2017R1D1A3B06035312) to H.-K.H. H.M. was in part supported by the William H. Peterson Fellowship from the Department of Bacteriology at UW-Madison and the Robert H. and Carol L. Deibel Distinguished Graduate Fellowship from the Food Research Institute at UW-Madison.