Identification of a polyketide synthase gene (pksP) of Aspergillus fumigatus involved in conidial pigment biosynthesis and virulence

Med Microbiol Immunol. 1998 Oct;187(2):79-89. doi: 10.1007/s004300050077.


Aspergillus fumigatus is an important pathogen of the immunocompromised host causing pneumonia and invasive disseminated disease with high mortality. Previously, we identified a mutant strain (white, W) lacking conidial pigmentation and, in addition, the conidia showed a smooth surface morphology, whereas wild-type (WT) conidia are grey-green and have a typical ornamentation. W conidia appeared to be less protected against killing by the host defence, e.g., were more susceptible to oxidants in vitro and more efficiently damaged by human monocytes in vitro than WT conidia. When compared to the WT, the W mutant strain showed reduced virulence in a murine animal model. Genetic analysis suggested that the W mutant carried a single mutation which caused all of the observed phenotypes. Here. we report the construction of a genomic cosmid library of A. fumigatus and its use for complementation of the W mutant. Transformation of the W mutant was facilitated by co-transformation with plasmid pHELP1 carrying the autonomously replicating ama1 sequence of A. nidulans which also increased the transformation efficiency of A. fumigatus by a factor of 10. Using this cosmid library a putative polyketide synthase gene, designated pksP (polyketide synthase involved in pigment biosynthesis) was isolated. The pksP gene has a size of 6660 bp. pksP consists of five exons separated by short (47-73 bp) introns. Its deduced open reading frame is composed of 2146 amino acids. The pksP gene complemented both the white phenotype and the surface morphology of the W mutant conidia to wild type. Whereas W mutant conidia caused a strong reactive oxygen species (ROS) release by polymorphonuclear leukocytes, the ability of pksP-complemented W mutant conidia to stimulate ROS release was significantly reduced and comparable to that of WT conidia. In addition, the complemented strains showed restored virulence in a mouse model.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Aspergillus fumigatus / genetics*
  • Base Sequence
  • Fungal Proteins / genetics*
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism
  • Genes, Fungal*
  • Genomic Library
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multienzyme Complexes / genetics*
  • Multienzyme Complexes / metabolism
  • Pigments, Biological / biosynthesis
  • Pigments, Biological / genetics*
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Specific Pathogen-Free Organisms
  • Virulence


  • Fungal Proteins
  • Multienzyme Complexes
  • Pigments, Biological

Associated data

  • GENBANK/Y17317