Field of the invention
This invention relates to a method for producing terpenes in fungi, a terpene biosynthetic gene cluster, regulatory regions of such terpene biosynthetic gene cluster, use of transcription factor for regulating the terpene production and use of Aspergillus nidulans
FGSC A4 for producing terpenes.
Description of related art
Terpenes are a large group of compounds that have many pharmaceutical and industrial applications. Terpenes can function as potential drugs or precursors for pharmaceuticals or bioactive compounds. Examples for these applications are antimalarial sesquiterpene amorphadiene and anticancer diterpene taxol. Monoterpenes, such as limonene, have applications as jet fuel components.
Bioactive terpenes are commonly purified from plants. Terpenes are a class biologically produced molecules synthesized from five carbon precursor molecules in a wide range of organisms. Terpenes are pure hydrocarbons, while terpenoids may contain one or more oxygen atoms. The terms terpene and terpenoid are used interchangeably. Problem in the industrial scale production of terpenoids is their structural complexity which makes them expensive to produce by the means of conventional chemistry. Another concern is the environmental stress caused by terpene purification from harvested plant material. One way to go around these problems is to generate microbial hosts that are easily cultured in industrial conditions. There is an increasing demand for inexpensive production methods for terpene derived pharmaceuticals. Heterologous expression organisms such as bacteria, yeasts, or fungi, would provide the sought-after cost-efficient way to produce these compounds. One of the problem areas in genetically engineered fungal hosts is the product outcome of exogenous genes.
Genes encoding successive steps in a biosynthetic pathway tend to be clustered together on the chromosome to form "gene clusters". The extent of the clustering is highly variable within and between organisms. Secondary metabolites are compounds that are not essential for the normal growth of an organism but that function as defense compounds or signaling molecules in ecological interactions. Many secondary metabolites have interesting biological properties, for example as antibiotics, anticancer agents, insecticides, immunosuppressants and herbicides. Clustering of the genes controlling the biosynthesis of these compounds in bacteria is virtually universal. However, eukaryotic genomes also contain clusters of functionally related but non-homologous genes [Osborn].
Numerous clusters for the synthesis of secondary metabolites can be found in filamentous fungi. Filamentous organisms contain far more clusters of genes for secondary metabolite biosynthesis than had been predicted from the previously identified metabolites. Secondary metabolic gene clusters are self-contained cassettes for metabolite production. They contain genes encoding enzymes that give rise to the skeleton structures of the different classes of secondary metabolite e.g. non-ribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS) enzymes, polyketide synthases (PKSs), and terpene synthases, which are referred to as 'signature' genes/enzymes. The clusters also contain genes for tailoring enzymes that modify the secondary metabolite skeleton, such as oxidoreductases, methyltransferases, acyltransferases and glycosyltransferases. In some cases secondary metabolic clusters also include genes for pathway-specific regulators and/or for resistance to the pathway end-product [Osborn].
Expression of secondary metabolic clusters is typically under environmental and/or developmental control and is mediated by complex regulatory cascades that relay signals to the pathway-specific switches. The Zn(II)2Cys6 -type transcription factors function as pathway-specific activators of secondary metabolite clusters by upregulating the transcription of the clustered genes. Clustering of secondary metabolite genes has the potential to facilitate regulation at the higher level of chromatin. The specific order and position of the genes within some secondary metabolite clusters could provide a structural framework that help to determine the timing and order of gene activation. This process has been proposed to orchestrate sequential substrate channeling through the enzymatic steps in the pathway (Roze et. al.
) The main selective advantage for clustering of functionally related genes is the need to coregulate a set of genes controlling successive steps in a biosynthetic or developmental pathway. Clustering facilitates the optimal regulation of a set of biosynthetic genes.
It has been shown that intergenic regions and the chromosomal positioning play a part in optimal gene expression. Many secondary metabolite clusters are in the subtelomeric regions of chromosomes, where the heterochromatin transcription is positionally regulated. Some of the clusters residing in subtelomeric regions are shown to be regulated by the universal transcriptional activators such as LaeA or AreA, which react to the environmental stimuli to release the heterochromatin regions for translation. The transcription of the genes in these areas is silenced under normal conditions. When exogenous genes are randomly integrated into the genome of the host organism, positional transcription regulation can play a role in the gene expression of the target gene (Palmer et al
Apart from unforeseen pleiotropic effects due to gene disruption by randomly integrated transforming DNA, it has been suggested that certain chromosomal locations may be more favorable for heterologous expression than others, perhaps due to specific interaction with local regulatory elements, or more generally active native transcription in the neighbourhood of normally highly expressed genes (Davis et al.).
Certain spatially or temporally regulated Aspergillus
genes-e.g., the aflatoxin cluster (Chiou et al.
) and conidium-specific genes (Miller et al.
) show dramatic changes in regulatory response when displaced from their original locus, and locus effects on heterologous expression have also been reported (Verdoes et al.
In the paper published by Lubertozzi & Kiesling amorphadiene synthase gene from Artemisia annua
was transformed into Aspergillus nidulans.
In their approach the product specificity was greatly reduced in Aspergillus nidulans
compared to the same expression experiments in E. coli.
The reason for this was hypothesized to be interfering background activity of other Aspergillus nidulans
secondary metabolite genes, which are absent in E.coli,
or the lack of supporting enzymatic activities needed for the modification of the terpenoid carbon skeleton to amorphadiene.
Bok et al.
discloses that over-expression of LaeA
in Aspergillus nidulans
induces numerous secondary metabolite clusters including putative terpenoid clusters.
 WO 2002024865 (Holzman
) describe modulation of lovastatin production using a Zn2(II)Cys6 -transcriptional activator residing outside the lovastatin cluster.
 WO 2001 021779
(DSM) discloses an identification, cloning and over-expression of a cluster-specific transcription activator BlaR
activating β-lactam production in filamentous fungus.
 WO 1999 025735
describe over-expression of chimeric transcription factors to enhance production of secondary metabolites.
Sakai et al.
have introduced citrinin biosynthetic gene cluster of Monascus
into Aspergillus oryzae.
They were able to increase the citrinin production by further introducing multiple copies of activator gene ctnA
controlled by Aspergillus trpC
Chiang et al.
have been able to activate an otherwise silent polyketide cluster in Aspergillus nidulans
by replacing the promoter of the transcription activator with an inducible promoter.
 WO 2010104763
discloses the production of terpenes and terpenoids using a nucleic acid encoding a terpene synthase. This is carried out by the expression of biosynthetic genes that are not part of a single naturally occurring gene cluster, but are artificially linked to heterologous regulatory regions (promoters). The genes described in this invention are not activated by a transcription factor.
Similarly, WO 2008039499
discloses a nucleic acid comprising a nucleotide sequence encoding a terpene synthase, WO 0240694
discloses an expression vector comprising specifically the taxane synthesis pathway, and WO 2007140339
discloses the production of isoprenoids via a biosynthetic pathway.
Thus, biosynthetic pathways for the production of terpenes are known. However, none of the cited publications disclose overexpression of a transcription factor specifically activating a cluster of genes belonging to a terpene biosynthetic pathway.
Drawback in the prior-art solution is difficulty in obtaining high product yields for terpenes. Further drawback is that the products obtained by microbial fermentation typically contain a major amount of unspecific side products and other unwanted compounds. In conclusion there is a need for production processes of terpenes giving higher yields of enriched product without essential amount of side-products.
Objects and summary of the invention
It is an aim of the invention to provide a method for producing terpenes by microbial fermentation so that the yield of the product is improved and the product is enriched. Particularly, the aim is to provide a method in which the intrinsic transcriptional regulation capacity of the fungus is used to keep the transcriptional regulation of terpene producing genes at a high level to produce commercially valuable terpene compounds in a microbial host.
These and other objects are achieved by the present invention as hereinafter described and claimed.
The first aspect of the invention is a method for producing terpenes in fungi. According to invention the method comprises the steps of:
- (a) providing a transcription factor activating a terpene biosynthetic gene cluster having terpene biosynthetic genes and regulatory regions operably linked to said genes;
- (b) operably linking said transcription factor to a promoter;
- (c) transforming the transcription factor of item (a) operably linked to the promoter of item (b) to a host cell carrying a terpene biosynthetic gene cluster as described in item (a);
- (d) cultivating said host in conditions allowing the expression of the transcription factor activating the cluster; and optionally
- (e) recovering the terpene product.
The second aspect of the invention is a terpene biosynthetic gene cluster. Characteristic to the cluster is that it essentially comprises the genes putatively encoding
- (a) Zn(II)2Cys6 -type transcription factor (AN1599), a terpene synthase (AN1594), an HMG-CoA reductase (AN1593), GGPP-synthase (AN1592) and
- (b) optionally translation elongation factor 1-gamma (AN1595), cytochrome P450 (AN1598), short-chain dehydrogenase (AN1596), hypothetical protein with some similarity to methyltransferase (AN1597), the regulatory regions operably linked to said genes, and optionally an AAA family ATPase (AN1591) and
- (c) regulatory regions operably linked to the genes of item (a) and to the optional genes of item (b).
Zn(II)2Cys6 -type transcription factor is capable of regulating all pathway genes residing within the terpene biosynthetic gene cluster. Transcription factors originally residing within the cluster or close to the cluster are preferred as they can be easily identified. However, after transformation to the homologous or heterologous host the genomic location of the inserted transcription factor in relation to the cluster is not critical.
The third aspect of the invention is regulatory regions of terpene biosynthetic gene cluster as described here for production of terpenes in fungus.
The fourth aspect of the invention is use of the transcription factor characterized by SEQ ID NO: 1, or a sequence showing at least 80% identity to one of those for regulating the terpene production. In a preferred embodiment the degree of identity to SEQ ID NO: 74 is 82%, 85%, 87%, 90%, 92%, 95%, 98% or even 99%.
The fifth aspect of the invention is the use of Aspergillus nidulans
FGSC A4 (Glasgow wild type, Fungal Genetic Stock Center strain A4) for producing terpenes.
The sixth aspect of this invention is a production host that is usable in the method of this invention. According to the invention the host comprises a terpene biosynthetic pathway gene cluster as described above and an introduced transcription factor operably linked to a promoter, wherein the transcription factor is capable of activating a terpene biosynthetic gene cluster. An introduced transcription factor operably linked to a promoter used in this connection means that the host cell carries (in addition to possible endogenous transcription factor and promoter) further copy or copies of transcription factor operably linked to a promoter when compared to a host that is not tailored for use within scope of this invention. The introduced transcription factor and the promoter can be homologous or heterologous to the host.
Seventh aspect of this invention is a process for production of terpenes. According to the invention the method comprises cultivating a production host useful in the method described here and optionally recovering the product.
So called "AN1599-transformant" or "AN1599-transformant strain" described herein is Aspergillus nidulans
strain FGSC A4 that has been transformed to carry extra copies of a Zn(II)2Cys6 transcription factor AN1599 gene under a constitutively active gpdA-
promoter. The exogenous gene product (SEQ ID NO: 10) is linearized with PciI and transformed into the genome of the host strain. The integration site and the copy number of the expression construct are not known.
The embodiments of the invention are disclosed in the dependent claims.
Brief description of the drawings
Figure 1. Chromosomal areas of predicted terpene synthase clusters. Pictures adapted from Aspergillus Genome Database (Arnaud et al.) using Genome Browser tool.
Figure 2. is a schematic representation of a fungal expression vector for AN1599 (SEQ ID NO: 10)
Figure 3. is a schematic representation of a fungal expression vector for AN3250 (SEQ ID NO: 11)
Figure 4. is a schematic representation of a fungal expression vector for AN6814 (SEQ ID NO: 12)
Figure 5 Shows an elevated expression level for the over-expressed transcriptional activators AN1599, AN3250, and AN6814 (bars with vertical lines). Terpene synthase gene AN1594, AN3252, and AN6814 (solid bars) and a gene coding for a modifying enzyme from each cluster, AN1598, AN3253, AN6807 (bars with diamonds), are expressed in significantly higher levels only in cluster 1. Value shown on top of each bar represents the fold ratio difference of the Aspergillus nidulans transformant -strain compared to Aspergillus nidulans FGSC A4 wild type -strain. The expression level of the wild type strain is considered to be 1 for each gene. Error bars represent the standard deviation in the expression fold -ratios for three replicates of three individual samples from each strain.
Figure 6 shows expression levels of 13 genes in the AN1599 genomic area. Putative terpene cluster genes show significantly elevated expression levels in both qPCR and DNA array analysis. Expression of eight target genes is significantly elevated in the Aspergillus nidulans FGSC A4 expressing the Zn(II)2Cys6 - type transcription factor, AN1599, under strong constitutive promoter. The expression level of the wild type strain is considered to be 1 for each gene. Error bars for qPCR data represent SEM, Standard Error of the Mean, for three replicates of three individual samples from each strain. The significance level for each gene expression fold ratio of DNA array data was 99% with p-values ≤ 0,01 calculated with student's T-test using ArrayStar software.
Figure 7 is an SPME-Gas Chromatogram for FGSC A4 wild-type and AN1599-transformant fungus. Upper graph with the baseline of about 2000 shows the spectrum for FGSC A4 strain with no significant peaks. The lower graph of the AN1599 strain shows the major peak at about 36 minutes retention time.
Figure 8. Mass spectrum of the major peak separated in GC analysis for AN1599 - transformant matches the PAL spectral library product ent-pimara-8(14),15-diene with 96 % similarity.
Figure 9. shows GC/MS data of the extracts from FGSC A4 and AN1599 transformant strains.
Figure 10. The changes in the gene expression levels of other secondary metabolite clusters can be seen with the DNA array analysis.
Description of the preferred embodiments of the invention
This invention describes the use of naturally occurring regulatory regions operably linked to biosynthetic genes that are activated by a single transcription factor and lead to production of terpene via several enzymatic reactions. These enzymes are coded by cluster genes.
Thus, the invention relates to a method for the modulation of secondary metabolite production of fungi through genetic manipulation of such fungi. Disclosed is a method using zinc binuclear cluster, Zn(II)2Cys6, -protein to significantly increase useful secondary metabolite production. The term zinc binuclear cluster protein (ZBC-protein) means any gene encoding a protein having as part of its structure Cys-(Xaa)2-Cys-(Xaa)6-Cys-(Xaa)5-16-Cys-(Xaa)2-Cys-(Xaa)6-8-Cys. Generally, the methods according to the invention comprise expressing a zinc binuclear cluster protein in a fungus. Zn(II)2
-type transcription factors have a well-conserved cysteine rich domain that binds two zinc atoms. This DNA binding domain recognizes CGG triplets in varying orientations within the promoter region of the target genes.
AN1599 polypeptide is a species of ZBC-protein and capable of acting as a pathway specific transcription factor for the production of ent
-pimara-8(14),15-diene compound in a microorganism. It is characterized by an amino acid sequence comprising at least a part of SEQ ID NO: 74.
In this invention an activation of upstream crucial precursor synthesis genes, HMG-CoA reductase for isoprenoid synthesis and GGPP-synthase for the diterpenoid backbone synthesis, as well as enzymes needed for the modification of the final product is provided. By overexpressing transcriptional activator we can achieve optimal expression levels for all necessary genes in the pathway.
Function of the genes residing in the cluster was predicted using homology searches with BLAST and pfam software programs. HMG-CoA reductase is the rate-limiting enzyme needed for the production of the isoprenoid precursors in the mevalonate pathway. GGPP-synthase combines isoprenoid moieties to form a precursor for diterpenoid backbone. The terpene synthase gene coding for ent
-kaurene / ent
-copalyl type synthase performs two sequential cyclisation steps to first form ent
-copalyl diphosphate from GGPP precursor, and then diterpene compound pimaradiene from the ent
-copalyl diphosphate. Cytochrome P450, short-chain dehydrogenase and the hypothetical protein residing in the cluster may function as decorative enzymes performing oxidation / reduction reactions and additions of functional groups to the diterpene structure. Translation elongation factor 1-gamma plays a central role in the elongation cycle during protein biosynthesis. Members of the AAA+ ATPases function as molecular chaperons, ATPase subunits of proteases, helicases, or nucleic-acid stimulated ATPases. The AAA+ proteins contain several distinct features in addition to the conserved alpha-beta-alpha core domain structure and the Walker A and B motifs of the P-loop NTPases.
Expression cassette, which is encoding a selectable marker gene and a transcriptional regulator AN1599 polypeptide operably linked to a promoter and a terminator, is useful for improving the production of terpenes, especially pimaradiene compounds in a microorganism such as filamentous fungus, e.g. Aspergillus nidulans, Aspergillus niger, Neosartorya fisheri, Microsporum canis
or Trichoderma reesei,
by transforming the organism with the expression cassette comprising a transcription factor operably linker to a promoter and a terminator, and selecting the transformed cells with the selectable marker and an increased production of terpene compound as compared to non-transformed cells. Transformed host, which is a terpene producing microorganism, is useful for producing terpene compound by fermentation, and the terpene compound can optionally be isolated from the cells or the growth medium. Terpene product can be any terpene, diterpenes are preferred and ent
-pimara-8(14),15-diene is the most preferred terpene product.
In one embodiment of the invention terpenes or terpenoids are produced in fungi by activating a terpene pathway. Basic idea is to overexpress a positive transcription factor specifically activating a cluster of genes belonging to a terpene, for example pimaradiene, biosynthetic pathway. Transcriptional upregulation of the complete gene cluster will overcome the challenges of introducing multiple overexpression constructs for individual biosynthetic pathway genes into a single host organism. Compared to the traditional systems, where multiple genes are exogenously introduced to a host and upregulated, this approach benefits from the specific transcriptional activator capable of upregulating all necessary genes for the production of a diterpene compound in the host organism. It has been noted, that a product outcome of an organism with multiple exogenous genes will rely on the individual expression levels of each introduced gene. Balancing the expression levels to achieve optimal product yield can be tricky. Optimizing expression for multiple exogenous genes at the same time will in many cases create a so-called bottleneck effect, where insufficient transcriptional activation of one gene will limit the product yield no matter how high upregulation is achieved for the rest of the genes in the pathway. When multiple biosynthetic pathways with similar end products are activated, existing precursor pool is guided to the biosynthetic pathway of the synthase gene with the highest expression level. Thus downregulation of competing pathways can be beneficial in guiding the product flux toward the desired compound. The holistic changes in the transcriptome of the host can be seen in our DNA array study which revealed downregulation of multiple other secondary metabolite synthase clusters when the terpene cluster was activated (results shown in Figure 10). This enables the production of enriched diterpene product with only minor amount of side products in the AN1599 transformant. Concentrated main product and high yield provide an excellent material for industrial use and possible further purification for intended applications.
In this connection term terpenes means hydrocarbons built from isoprene units (CH2
). Terpene hydrocarbons therefore have molecular formulas (C5
and they are classified according to the number of isoprene units: hemiterpenes, monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, diterpenes, triterpenes, and tetraterpenes. In one embodiment the terpenes are terpenoids, which are terpenes with modifications in their carbon skeleton, and especially diterpenoids. In one embodiment the terpenes are pimaradienes. Ent
-pimara-8(14),15-diene and its derivatives are preferred embodiments. Ent
-pimara-8(14),15-diene derivatives have been shown to have antitrypanosomal, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antiviral activities and are known to function as Ca-channel blocker, as well as cholesterol lowering agents. Thus such products are very valuable material for pharmaceutical industry.
In this connection the phrase "conditions allowing the expression" means conditions wherein the transcription factor (for example AN1599) activating the cluster is under constitutive promoter or under inducible promoter and the micro-organism is cultured in the presence of the inducer.
In one embodiment the host cell of item carries the terpene biosynthetic gene cluster having terpene metabolite synthase genes, and wherein the transcription factor (particularly AN1599) of the gene cluster is operably linked to a suitable promoter and transformed to the cell.
In other embodiment the terpene biosynthetic gene cluster having terpene metabolite synthase genes is transformed to a host cell. The host may be heterologous or homologous to the cluster.
The transcription factor operably linked to a promoter and activating a terpene biosynthetic gene cluster having terpene biosynthesis genes, may be homologous or heterologous to the host cell and/or said gene cluster. After transformation the host strain may have one or more copies of said transcription factor and promoter.
Site-directed transformation of the transcription factor operably linked to a suitable promoter, transformation of single genes and/or transformation of a whole cluster or transformation of genes of the pathway with the regulatory regions may be preferred to block translation of the unwanted genes of the host or to enhance the transcription of the synthetic pathway genes.
In one embodiment a gene encoding a transporter protein is included to the production host. The transporter protein can be within the terpene pathway cluster, it can be natural to the host or introduced heterologous or homologous transporter. Transporter molecules represent an active transportation system through cellular membranes or for example facilitated diffusion. They can force ions or small molecules through the membranes, for example enhance secretion of terpenes. It is well understood by the skilled person that transporters may enhance the production of desired product. For example, several PDR type transporters as well as transporters of the major facilitator superfamily (MFS) were up-regulated in the artemisinic acid -producing Saccharomyces cerevisiae
strain. These transporters may enhance the export of the terpene product (Ro et al
With the DNA array experiment, we noticed that the transcription of numerous transporters and transferases is upregulated in the AN1599 transformant -strain where terpene biosynthetic pathway is activated (data not shown). Efficient transport of precursors and end products will likely be beneficial for the production of secondary metabolites in fungi.
Transcription factor (for example AN1599) can activate the terpene biosynthetic pathway by activating the pathway genes (upregulation). The upregulation of the cluster genes by transcription fctor (for example AN1599) may also be associated with downregulation of other secondary metabolite clusters. Other secondary metabolite pathways might be competing for the precursor pool needed for the terpene biosynthesis. Hence, the downregulation of potentially competing clusters is an advantage for the specific production of the activated cluster compound.
In this connection the transcription factor (for example AN1599) is capable of upregulating the whole terpene pathway. Activation of the pathway increases the amount of desired final product and decreases impurities including intermediates. The location of the transcription factor, such as AN1599, is not restricted. In one embodiment the transcription factor and the promoter are transformed to the host cell randomly, in another embodiment the transformation is site-directed. Thus the production host will have a native transcription factor within the cluster, and another copy(/ies) of the said transcription factor operably linked to a promoter located elsewhere in the genome.
The N-terminal region of a number of fungal transcription factors contain a cysteine-rich motif that is involved in zinc-dependent binding of DNA. The region forms a binuclear Zn cluster, in which two Zn atoms are bound by six Cys residues. Amino acids 45-86 in the transcription factor AN1599 form a conserved Zn(II)2Cys6 DNA-binding domain.
||+aC++Cr +Kv+Cd+ + P C +C+k++++C++|
Pfam (pfam.janelia.org/) sequence alignment for AN1599 conserved Zn(II)2Cys6 DNA-binding domain.
In one embodiment the transcription factor has a sequence SEQ ID NO: 74, or a sequence showing at least 80% identity to SEQ ID NO: 74. In a preferred embodiment the transcription factor has a sequence characterized by SEQ ID NO: 74, or a sequence showing at least 85%, 88%, 90%, 92%, 95%, 98% identity to SEQ ID NO: 74.
The promoter should be suitable to the host and preferably effective in cultivation conditions. Typically the promoter is homologous to the production host but also heterologous promoter can be used. The promoter can be a constitutive or an inducible promoter. An inducible promoter is especially advantageous when the final product or one or more of the intermediates is (are) harmful or toxic to the production host and controlled expression is preferred. Examples of suitable constitutively active promoters are promoters such as Aspergillus nidulans
glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (gpdA
), and tryptophan biosynthesis gene trpC.
Examples of suitable inducible promoters include nitrate reductase (niaD
) promoter, alcohol dehydrogenase (alcA
) promoter, acetamidase (amdS
), and heterologous inducible promoters such as Penicillium chrysogenum
). In one embodiment the promoter is Aspergillus nidulans gpdA
promoter. In one embodiment the promoter is Aspergillus
The host cell can be heterologous or homologous to one or more of the genes encoding transcription factor, promoter and the genetic cluster. Any production host can be used but preferably the host is a microbial cell such as fungus, yeast or bacterium, more preferably a fungus and still more preferably a filamentous fungus. Examples of suitable fungal host are Aspergillus, Penicillium, Trichoderma, Neurospora, Fusarium
In one embodiment the host is Aspergillus, Penicillium or Trichoderma
and in a preferred embodiment Aspergillus nidulans.
Especially preferred host is Aspergillus nidulans
homologous to the cluster. In one embodiment the host cell is Aspergillus nidulans
In the experimental section we describe AN1599-transformant strain that is Aspergillus nidulans
strain FGSC A4 that has been transformed to carry extra copies of a Zn(II)2Cys6 transcription factor AN1599 gene under a constitutively active gpdA
-promoter. The exogenous gene product (SEQ ID NO:10) is linearized with PciI and transformed into the host genome of the host strain. The integration site and the copy number of the expression construct are not known.
Transformation and selection of transformants can be performed by methods known in the art. One example is transformation by protoplasting and selection using glufosinate ammonium. Stable transformation is obtained when the expression cassette is integrated to the chromosomal DNA of the host. However, also episomal plasmids and other non-integrated constructs are within this invention.
A gene cluster is a set of two or more genes that serve to encode proteins needed for the biosynthesis of a product. In one embodiment of the invention the terpene biosynthetic gene cluster is obtained from species Aspergillus
preferably Aspergillus nidulans, Aspergillus niger, Neosartorya fischeri
or Microsporum canis. Aspergillus nidulans
and especially Aspergillus nidulans
FGSC A4 are most preferred.
In another embodiment the cluster comprises essentially the genes encoding proteins characterized by
SEQ ID NO: 74 or a sequence having at least 80%, preferably at least 85%, 90%, 95% or even 98% degree of identity to SEQ ID NO: 74 (AN1599), or an active fragment thereof.
SEQ ID NO: 65 or a sequence having at least 88%, 90%, 95% or even 98% degree of identity to SEQ ID NO: 65 (AN1594), or an active fragment thereof.
SEQ ID NO: 63 or a sequence having at least 90%, preferably at least 95% , 97% or even 98% degree of identity to SEQ ID NO: 63 (AN1593), or an active fragment thereof.
SEQ ID NO: 61 or a sequence having at least 86%, preferably at least 90%, 95%, 97% or even 98% degree of identity to SEQ ID NO: 61 (AN1592), or an active fragment thereof.
SEQ ID NO: 67 or a sequence having at least 90%, preferably at least 93%, 95% , 97%, 98% or even 99% degree of identity to SEQ ID NO: 67 (AN1595), or an active fragment thereof.
SEQ ID NO: 73 or a sequence having at least 94%, preferably at least 95%, 97% or even 98% degree of identity to SEQ ID NO: 73 (AN1598), or an active fragment thereof.
SEQ ID NO: 69 or a sequence having at least 90%, preferably at least 93%, 95% , 97%, 98% or even 99% degree of identity to SEQ ID NO: 69 (AN1596), or an active fragment thereof.
SEQ ID NO: 71 or a sequence having at least 90%, preferably at least 93%, 95% , 97%, 98% or even 99% degree of identity to SEQ ID NO: 71 (AN1597), or an active fragment thereof and optionally
SEQ ID NO: 59 or a sequence having at least 50%, preferably at least 60%, 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90% or even 95% degree of identity to SEQ ID NO: 59 (AN1591) or an active fragment thereof, and regulatory regions operably linked to said genes.
In another embodiment the cluster comprises the genes encoding proteins as listed and characterized above. In another embodiment the cluster consists of the genes encoding proteins as listed and characterized above. In still further embodiment the cluster comprises the genes encoding proteins (AN1599), (AN1594), (AN1593), (AN1592), (AN1595), (AN1598), (AN1596), and (AN1597) as listed and characterized above. In still further embodiment the cluster consists of the genes encoding proteins (AN1599), (AN1594), (AN1593), (AN1592), (AN1595), (AN1598), (AN1596), and (AN1597) as listed and characterized above.
"An active fragment" means a fragment having all the parts needed for completing the function typical for the protein.
In this connection the phrase "comprises essentially" means that at least genes encoding the proteins needed for terpene production are included. In this connection at least genes encoding Zn(II)2Cys6 -type transcription factor (AN1599), a terpene synthase (AN1594), an HMG-CoA reductase (AN1593), GGPP-synthase (AN1592), and regulatory regions operably linked to said genes should be included.
Thus, cluster fragments can also be used.
Organization of the genes within the biosynthetic pathway gene cluster is not critical, e.g. Aspergillus nidulans
and Neosartorya fisheri
carry the respective genes but the order of the genes is different.
Thus, any combination of cluster fragments can be used.
As used in the present context the term "identity" refers to the global identity between two amino acid sequences compared to each other from the first amino acid encoded by the corresponding gene to the last amino acid. For the purposes of the present invention identity is preferably determined by means of known computer programs using standard algorithms. An example of such a program is NCBI BLAST; BLASTp (comparison of known protein sequences, amino acids), BLASTn (comparison of nucleic acid sequences), BLASTx (comparison of translated nucleic acid sequences against know protein sequences).
In this connection the term "synthase genes" means gene(s) encoding the terpene cyclase and all genes encoding enzymes that are needed in modification of terpene. HMG-CoA reductase is the rate-limiting enzyme in the isoprenoid precursor biosynthesis, and therefore indispensable for the synthesis of terpenes. Sufficient synthesis of precursor molecules critically impacts the yield of the desired metabolite. Increasing the amount of biosynthesis genes without the activated upstream precursor synthesis will not affect the yield of the product. When also the precursor pathway is activated it is possible to achieve optimal production levels for the target metabolite.
Two DNA sequences are operably linked when the function of the promoter results in transcription. An operable linkage is a linkage in which a sequence is connected to a regulatory sequence (or sequences) in such a way as to place expression of the sequence under the influence or control of the regulatory sequence.
In this connection the regulatory areas for the cluster genes are naturally occurring within the host organism. The transcriptional control regions are associated with the coding region in nature. These regulatory areas are under influence or control of a transcription factor. For example, the DNA binding domain of transcription factor AN1599 recognizes CGG triplets or other sequence stretches in varying orientations within the promoter region of the target genes in the biosynthetic cluster area (SEQ ID NO:57) thus activating the transcription of said genes. The CGG triplets or other sequence stretches affecting binding of the transcription factor have not been identified for each gene. However, the promoter areas within the identified cluster are specific for the transcriptional activation by the transcription factor AN1599. The naturally occurring regulatory regions included within SEQ ID NO:57 can be used with the expressed transcription factor to promote the transcription of the ORFs within the cluster. The regulatory region may contain various elements, for example promoter(s), enhancer(s), repressor(s) or other sequences that regulate transcription or translation.A regulatory region can be exogenous or endogenous in relationship to the host organism. The regulatory regions for the cluster genes described herein (SEQ ID NO:57) are endogenous as well as naturally occurring in relation to coding regions of the genes described.
The promoter used in the overexpression of the transcription factor AN1599 described herein is endogenous but not naturally occurring. The promoter is operably linked to a coding sequence. The promoter used in the overexpression of the transcription factor can also be heterologous. As used herein, the terms "heterologous promoter" and "heterologous control regions" refer to promoters and other control regions that are not normally associated with a particular nucleic acid in nature. The fungal strain overexpressing AN1599 described herein also contains natural regulatory region(s) that are associated with the coding region of AN1599 in nature. The mechanism of upregulation of AN1599 transcription factor through its natural regulatory regions is not known. Activation of the pimaradiene cluster described herein by activation of AN1599 through its naturally occurring regulatory region(s) is within the embodiments of this invention.
In a biosynthetic gene cluster the regulatory regions between the enzyme/protein encoding regions comprise promoters, terminators and regions to which various regulatory factors are able to attach. The terms "DNA regulatory sequences", "control elements", and "regulatory elements" used interchangeably herein, refer to transcriptional and translational control sequences, such as promoters, enhancers, polyadenylation signals, terminators, protein degradation signals, and the like, that provide for and/or regulate expression of a coding sequence and/or production of an encoded polypeptide in a host cell. In one embodiment the regulatory regions are those characterized by SEQ ID NO: 57, or a sequence having at least 40%, preferably at least 50%, 60%, 70%, 80% or even 90% degree of identity to said SEQ ID NO: 57 without fractions encoding the synthetic proteins.
It is also embodiment of the invention to use the transcription factor for production of diterpenoids, preferably pimaradiene or its derivates, and especially ent
-pimara-8(14),15-diene or its derivatives.
One embodiment is the use of Aspergillus nidulans
FGSC A4 for producing terpenes using the method as described here and illustrated in the experimental part.
The invention is illustrated by the following non-limiting examples. It should be understood, however, that the embodiments given in the description above and in the examples are for illustrative purposes only, and that various changes and modifications are possible within the scope of the invention.
Example 1. Locating the terpenoid clusters in different filamentous fungi and the selection of the clusters to be studied.
Protein sequences of 33 fungi (Arvas et al.
) were mapped to their respective genome sequences by BLAST (Altschul et al.
) in order to find genomic co-ordinates for each gene. From the gene co-ordinates windows of 16 and 30 consecutive genes along chromosomal sequence were calculated, moving the window along chromosome with increments of 2 and 5 genes, respectively, to cover all 33 genomes with overlapping windows. For each window its protein domain content i.e. InterPro (Mulder et al.
) identifier content was determined based on protein domains of individual genes derived from InterPro data of Arvas et al.
All windows containing identifiers IPR008949 'Terpenoid synthase' and IPR008930 'Terpenoid cyclase' were found, and the list of these windows was used as source for selecting gene clusters for laboratory manipulations. Alternatively windows containing IPR008930, IPR001128 'Cytochrome P450' and IPR001138 'Fungal transcriptional regulatory protein' were looked for. Data manipulations and visualizations were carried out with custom R (www.r-project.org/) & Perl (www.perl.org/) scripts.
Clusters with a putative diterpenoid synthase gene located close to a fungal Zn(II)2
-type transcription factor were identified. The clusters chosen for further analysis also included putative Cytochrome P450 -genes as well as enzymes predicted to participate in terpenoid precursor synthesis or modification of the terpenoid product. The three selected clusters from Aspergillus nidulans
did not reside in the immediate vicinity of another secondary metabolite synthase gene, such as polyketide synthase, thus avoiding the study of hybrid metabolite clusters. The transcription factors from the three selected clusters were AN1599 (SEQ ID NO: 1), AN3250 (SEQ ID NO: 2) and AN6814 (SEQ ID NO: 3). Similar clusters were also found in Neosartorya fischeri, Microsporum canis, Trichoderma reesei, Neurospora crassa, Aspergillus clavus, Aspergillus fumigatus, Aspergillus niger, Aspergillus oryzae, Aspergillus terreus, Botrytis cinerea, Magnaporthe grisea, Fusarium graminearum,
and Fusarium oxysporum,
and the terpenoid clusters were mapped in Ashbya gossypii, Candida albicans, Candida glabrata, Candida guilliermondii, Candida lusitaniae, Chaetomium globosum, Debaryomyces hansenii, Kluyveromyces lactis, Pichia pastoris, Pichia stipitis, Saccharomyces castellii, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Saccharomyces kluyveri, Yarrowia lipolytica, Coprinus cinereus, Cryptococcus neoformans, Phanerochaete chrysosporium, Coccidioides immitis, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, Stagonospora nodorum, Ustilago maydis,
and Rhizopus oryzae.
Figure 1 shows chromosomal areas of predicted terpene synthase clusters. Pictures are adapted from Aspergillus Genome Database (Arnaud et al.
) using Genome Browser tool.
Example 2. Cloning of the selected transcription factorsin fungal expression constructs
Genomic DNA was extracted by homogenizing 300-500 mg of FGSC A4 mycelia grown over night in YES-medium. 500 µL of glass beads (Acid-washed glass beads, cat # G8772, Sigma), 500 µL 1 x TE -buffer, pH 7,5 and 500 µL phenol-chloroform-isoamyl alcohol was added to 2 mL vial with mycelia and homogenized in Fast Prep -homogenizer at speed 6 for 25 seconds. Aqueous layer was separated with 5 minute centrifugation at 15 000 rpm at 4 °C, and 650 µL of phenol-chloroform-isoamyl alcohol was added. DNA purification from the aqueous phase was continued according to phenol extraction and ethanol precipitation of DNA -protocol (Current Protocols in Molecular Biology). Concentration of the DNA was measured with Nanodrop (Thermo Scientific).
Open reading frames (ORFs) of AN1599 (SEQ ID NO: 1), AN3250 (SEQ ID NO: 2) and AN6814 (SEQ ID NO: 3) were amplified with PCR using 43 ng of genomic DNA extracted from Aspergillus nidulans
FGSC A4 as template. Primer concentration was 300 nM for both sense and anti-sense primers in 50 µL total volume. PCR was done according manufacturer's protocol with Expand High Fidelity PCR System (Cat # 11 732 650 001, Roche). Primers used in the PCR for Aspergillus nidulans
AN1599 were SEQ ID NO: 4 and SEQ ID NO: 5, primers used in the PCR for Aspergillus nidulans
AN3250 were SEQ ID NO: 6 and SEQ ID NO: 7, and primers used in the PCR of Aspergillus nidulans
AN6814 were SEQ ID NO: 8 and SEQ ID NO: 9. Oligos were synthesized at 0.025 scale and purified by desalting at Sigma-Aldrich.
Amplification for AN1599 and AN6814 was done in thermal cycler with following parameters: 1 cycle at 95 °C for 5 minutes, 30 cycles at 94 °C for 15 seconds, 68 °C for 30 second, and 72 °C for 2 minutes, 1 cycle at 72 °C for 7 minutes, and cool down at + 4 °C. Amplification of AN3250 was done with following parameters: 1 cycle at 95 °C for 5 minutes, 30 cycles at 94 °C for 15 seconds, 63 °C for 30 second, and 72 °C for 1 minute 20 seconds, 1 cycle at 72 °C for 7 minutes, and cool down at + 4 °C. Fragments were checked on agarose gel and cloned into pCR 2.1 TOPO-vector (Cat # K4510-20, TOPO TA Cloning®
Kit (with pCR 2.1 TOPO-vector), Invitrogen) according to manufacturer's protocol. Full-length genomic AN1599
was digested from pCR2.1 TOPO-vector with SpeI (cat # R0133S, New England Biolabs, Inc.), and AN3250 and AN6814 were digested with both SpeI and ApaI (cat # R0114S, New England Biolabs, Inc.). All fragments were subcloned into pKB1 -vector.
pKB1 -vector was constructed by adding PCR -amplified glufosinate ammonium resistance gene, bar,
into NotI -site of modified pAN52-1NotI -vector (Kuorelahti et al
.). bar -
fragment had been PCR amplified from pTJK1 (Jones et al.
) with added NotI -sites on both ends of the fragment. The fragment contains Aspergillus nidulans trpC
promoter upstream of bar-
resistance gene. AN1599 -fragment was cloned into the SpeI-site of pKB1 (SEQ ID NO: 10), and AN3250 and AN6814 were cloned into the SpeI and ApaI-sites of pKB1- vector (SEQ ID NO: 11 and SEQ ID NO: 12 respectively). All constructs were sequence -verified before transformations. Schematic representations of the expression vectors for AN1599, AN3250 and AN6814 are shown as Figures 2, 3 and 4, respectively.
Example 3. Generating the fungal strains overexpressing the transcription factor
Conidia of Aspergillus nidulans
strain FGSC A4 Glasgow wild type (veA
+) (Fungal Genetics Stock Center, School of Biological Sciences, University of Missouri, Kansas City, 5007 Rockhill Road, Kansas City, MO 64110, USA) were inoculated in YES-medium supplemented with gelatine [20 g Bacto™ Yeast Extract (Cat # 212750, Becton, Dickinson and Company), 40 g sucrose (Calbiochem Cat # 573113) and 30 g Difco™ Gelatin (Cat # 214340, Becton, Dickinson and Company) per liter of dH2
O], and grown at +24 °C in shaking flasks over night with 250 rpm. Cultures were transferred to +30 °C shaker the next morning and the grown with 250 rpm for 2 hours. Protoplasts were prepared from Aspergillus nidulans
FGSC A4 mycelium, that was filtered through sterile Miracloth, and rinsed with +37 °C dH2
O, and room temperature citrate buffer [0.8 M KCl, 0.05 M Na-citrate, pH 5.8]. Filtrated mycelium was resuspended in 100 mL of room temperature citrate buffer supplemented with 1 mM dithiotreitol and 50 mL of 3% enzyme -solution [1.5 g of Hydrolyzing enzymes from Trichoderma harzianum
, cat # L1412, Sigma in 50 mL of citrate buffer] was added. Protoplasting was done at + 30 °C for 2.5 hours shaking at 100 rpm, and protoplast formation was monitored under microscope at 50 minute -, and 1,5 hour -time-points during the enzyme treatment. Suspension was cooled on ice for 10 minutes and then filtered through sterile Miracloth to a sterile flask, and the protoplast suspension was transferred to 50 mL conical tubes. Protoplasts were centrifuged at 1500 x g for 5 minutes at + 4 °C in a tabletop centrifuge, and supernatant was discarded. Pelleted protoplasts were washed with cold GTC-buffer [1 M glucose, 50 mM CaCl2
, 10 mM Tris-HCl, pH 5.8], centrifuged at 1500 x g for 5 minutes at + 4 °C in a tabletop centrifuge, and resuspended in 600 µL of GTC. 600 µL of 40% glycerol was added and protoplasts were stored at
-80 °C until transformation.
Selective plates for the transformation were prepared with modified minimal medium (MM) (Kaminskyj). 1 liter of MM was supplemented with 1 mL of Triton x-100 (Cat # 93418, Fluka Analytical), 18 g of Difco™ Agar Noble (Cat # 214230, Becton, Dickinson and Company), and 200 µg/mL of glufosinate ammonium (Cat # 45520, Glufosinate-ammonium, PESTANAL®
, Sigma-Aldrich). Glufosinate ammonium was added to cooled solution after autoclaving. Top agar used in the transformations was prepared without Triton x-100 in minimal medium supplemented with 2 % agar and 200 µg/mL of glufosinate ammonium. Selective MM -plates were also used for the subsequent selection of the transformants.
Protoplast suspension was thawed on ice and 400 µL of the suspension was transferred to a 15 mL tube. Glycerol was washed out with 2 mL of cold GTC, and protoplasts were suspended in 180 µL of cold GTC. 20 µg of the expression plasmids were linearized with PciI (cat # R0655S, New England Biolabs Inc.) at + 37 °C for 1.5 hours. Linearized DNA was precipitated at -80 °C for 15 minutes after adding dH2
O up to 100 µL, 10 µL of 3 M NaAc (sodium acetate), pH 4.8, and 275 µL of 94 % EtOH. Precipitated DNA was collected by 5 minute centrifugation at 15 000 rpm at +4 °C, washed with 70 % EtOH and re-suspended in 20 µL of GTC. DNA was added to protoplasts and mixed by tapping the tube. 50 µL of PEG-solution [25 % PEG6000, 50 mM CaCl2
, 10 mM Tris-HCl, pH 7.5] was mixed with protoplast and DNA and the tubes were incubated on ice for 20 minutes. 2 mL of PEG-solution was added, and the transformation solution was transferred to 15 mL vial. The vial was incubated at room temperature for 5 minutes, 4 mL of RT GTC was added, and tubes mixed by inverting. 6 mL of + 55 °C top agar was supplemented with 1,2 mg of glufosinate ammonium and added to 6 mL of transformation mix. Vials were mixed by inverting and the top agar with transformed protoplasts was poured on selective minimal medium (MM)-plates.
Plates were incubated at + 30 °C until transformed colonies were visible. Colonies from transformation plates were picked on the selective MM -plates, diluted to single -nucleated colonies and the insertion of the expression constructs was verified with PCR from the genomic DNA of the selected clones. Sense primer used for the checking of the expression cassettes was SEQ ID NO: 13, and the gene-specific antisense primer for Aspergillus nidulans
AN1599 was SEQ ID NO: 14, for AN3250 SEQ ID NO: 15, and for AN6814 SEQ ID NO: 16. PCR -confirmed positive clones were grown on potato dextrose plates [37 g of Difco™ Potato Dextrose Agar per liter of dH2
O] until the spore collection. Spores of the transformant fungi were collected into 0.8 % NaCl, 0.025 % Tween-20 and 20 % glycerol, and stored at -80 °C.
Example 4. Real-time PCR analysis to check the expression of the integrated transcriptional activators and two target genes from each cluster
Transformant spores collected from potato dextrose plates were inoculated in YES-media and grown to confluency in shaking flasks at +30 °C 250 rpm. Mycelium was harvested to sterile Miracloth (# 475855, Calbiochem) by vacuum filtration, rinsed with + 37 °C dH2
O, and three 100 µL batches of each culture were scooped into 1.5 mL microfuge tubes, flash frozen in liquid nitrogen and stored at -80 °C until RNA extraction.
Three RNA extractions were done from each transformant culture to have statistical variation within the sample preparation. RNA was extracted from 100 µL of frozen mycelium, which was homogenized in 450 µL RLT-buffer (RNeasy®
Plant Mini Kit, Cat # 74904, Qiagen) supplemented with b-mercaptoethanol using pestle and motor mixer (VWR™ Disposable Pestle, Cat # 47747-358, Pellet Mixer, Cat # 47747-370). Samples were further homogenized with QiaShredder column (RNeasy®
Plant Mini Kit, Cat # 74904, Qiagen), and the RNA extraction protocol was continued following RNeasy®
Plant mini Kit -protocol. Genomic DNA was removed from the samples using RNase-Free DNase Set (Cat # 79254, Qiagen) following the DNase Digestion of RNA before RNA Cleanup -protocol. RNA was quantified spectrophotometrically using Nanodrop (Thermo Scientific), and the quality of the RNA was checked with agarose gel electrophoresis.
cDNA synthesis was done following the protocol of Transcriptor First Strand cDNA Synthesis Kit (Cat # 04 897 030 001, Roche) with 5 µg of total RNA as template. cDNA was stored at -20 °C until analysis. Each sample was tested in three replicates to see the variation in quantitative PCR reaction set-up. Real-time quantitative PCR analysis reactions were set up using the protocol for LightCycler®
480 SYBR Green I Master mix (Cat # 04887352001, Roche), and analyzed in LightCycler®
480 Instrument (Roche). The 15 µL reactions were prepared in LightCycler®
480 white Multiwell Plate 96 (Cat # 04729692001, Roche) using 0.5 µM concentration of the primers.
Each transformant strain was tested with qPCR to see, if the integrated transcriptional activators have higher expression levels, than the FGSC A4 wild type strain. In addition to checking the success of the transformant generation, the activation of the clustered genes was checked with the primers specific to the genes putatively encoding a terpene synthase, and one modifying enzyme from each cluster.
PCR parameters for AN1599, AN1594, AN1598, AN3250, AN3252 and AN3253 were: Pre-incubation: 5 minutes at 95 °C with a ramp rate of 4.4 °C/s; Amplification for 50 cycles: 95 °C for 10 seconds with a ramp rate of 4.4 °C/s, 60 °C for 10 seconds with a ramp rate of 2.2 °C/s, 72 °C for 10 seconds with a ramp rate of 4.4 °C/s; Melting curve: 95 °C for 5 seconds with a ramp rate of 4.4 °C/s, 65 °C for 1 minute with a ramp rate of 4.4 °C/s and then continuously to 97 °C; Cooling at 40 °C for 10 seconds with a ramp rate of 1.5 °C/s. The primers used in quantitative PCR analysis were SEQ ID NO: 17 and SEQ ID NO: 18 for Aspergillus nidulans β-actin,
SEQ ID NO: 19 and SEQ ID NO: 20 for AN1599, SEQ ID NO: 21 and SEQ ID NO: 22 for AN1594, SEQ ID NO: 23 and SEQ ID NO: 24 for AN1598, SEQ ID NO: 25 and SEQ ID NO: 26 for AN3250, SEQ ID NO: 27 and SEQ ID NO: 28 for AN3252, SEQ ID NO: 29 and SEQ ID NO: 30 for AN3253.
PCR parameters for AN6810, AN6814 and AN6807 were: Pre-incubation: 5 minutes at 95 °C with a ramp rate of 4.4 °C/s; Amplification for 50 cycles: 95 °C for 10 seconds with a ramp rate of 4.4 °C/s, 57 °C for 10 seconds with a ramp rate of 2.2 °C/s, 72 °C for 10 seconds with a ramp rate of 4.4 °C/s; Melting curve: 95 °C for 5 seconds with a ramp rate of 4.4 °C/s, 65 °C for 1 minute with a ramp rate of 4.4 °C/s and then continuously to 97 °C; Cooling at 40 °C for 10 seconds with a ramp rate of 1.5 °C/s. Primers used in quantitative PCR analysis were SEQ ID NO: 31 and SEQ ID NO: 32 for AN6814, SEQ ID NO: 33 and SEQ ID NO: 34 for AN6810, SEQ ID NO: 35 and SEQ ID NO: 36 for AN6807. The expression levels were normalized to the levels of β-actin
expression in each sample.
Efficiencies for each primer set were calculated from serial dilutions of the template cDNA, and the expression fold ratios were quantified using pfaffl -equation (Pfaffl). The results are shown is Figure 5.
Albeit the high expression of Aspergillus nidulans
transcription factors AN3250 (2676.85 - fold higher than the Aspergillus nidulans
FGSC A4 control) and AN6814 (7848.1 -fold higher than the control) in their corresponding transformant strains, the expression levels of the predicted target genes were not significantly elevated. In the Aspergillus nidulans
AN1599-transformant strain, the approximately 100 -fold expression of the transcription factor was sufficient to significantly activate the two predicted target genes AN1594 (11088 -fold higher expression than in the control and AN1598 (3746.9 -fold higher than in the Aspergillus nidulans
FGSC A4 control). Aspergillus nidulans
AN1599-transformant strain was chosen for the subsequent experiments.
Example 5. Identifying the cluster limits with quantitative real-time PCR analysis (qPCR)
Expression of 13 genes in the genomic area of AN1599 was quantified with qPCR in Aspergillus nidulans
AN1599 -transformant and FGSC A4 to see which of the genes respond to the over-expression of the transcription factor. Total RNA extraction and cDNA synthesis -protocol, and the primers for AN1594, AN1598, and AN1599 were the same as in Example 5. Expression of AN1588 was checked with primers SEQ ID NO: 37 and SEQ ID NO: 38, AN1589 with primers SEQ ID NO: 39 and SEQ ID NO: 40, AN1590 with primers SEQ ID NO: 41 and SEQ ID NO: 42, AN1591 with primers SEQ ID NO: 43 and SEQ ID NO: 44, AN1592 with primers SEQ ID NO: 45 and SEQ ID NO: 46, AN1593 with primers SEQ ID NO: 47 and SEQ ID NO: 48, AN1595 with primers SEQ ID NO: 49 and SEQ ID NO: 50, AN1596 with primers SEQ ID NO: 51 and SEQ ID NO: 52, AN1597 with primers SEQ ID NO: 53 and SEQ ID NO: 54, AN1600 with primers SEQ ID NO: 55 and SEQ ID NO: 56.
The PCR parameters were: Pre-incubation: 5 minutes at 95 °C with a ramp rate of 4.4 °C/s; Amplification for 50 cycles: 95 °C for 10 seconds with a ramp rate of 4.4 °C/s, 55 °C for 10 seconds with a ramp rate of 2.2 °C/s, 72 °C for 10 seconds with a ramp rate of 4.4 °C/s; Melting curve: 95 °C for 5 seconds with a ramp rate of 4.4 °C/s, 65 °C for 1 minute with a ramp rate of 4.4 °C/s and then continuously to 97 °C; Cooling at 40 °C for 10 seconds with a ramp rate of 1.5 °C/s.
All expression values were normalized with β-actin
expression and the fold -ratios of the Aspergillus nidulans
AN1599 -transformant were compared to those of the Aspergillus nidulans
FGSC A4 wild type fungus. Primer efficiencies and the expression fold ratios were calculated as in Example 5. The results are shown is Figure 6.
Genes belonging to the putative diterpene secondary metabolite cluster were identified with quantitative real-time PCR and DNA array expression analysis. The genes in the cluster are AN1592, AN1593, AN1594, AN1595, AN1596, AN1597, AN1598, AN1599, and putatively AN1591.
Further, homologies of the gene products within putative terpene cluster were estimated using NCBI BLASTp -program.
Table 1. shows the closest match obtained using deduced amino acid sequences in BLASTp (protein-protein BLAST) search with non-redundant protein sequences (nr) as database.
|Protein||Closest match||Identities (%)||Positives (%)||Coverage (%)|
|SEQ ID NO: 59 AN1591
||Aspergillus niger An07g04480
|SEQ ID NO: 61 AN1592
||GGPP-synthase Neosartorya fisheri NFIA_009870
|SEQ ID NO: 63 AN1593
||HMG-CoA reductase Neosartorya fisheri NFIA_009850
|SEQ ID NO: 65 AN1594
||Hypothetical protein Neosartorya fisheri NFIA_009790
|SEQ ID NO: 67 AN1595
||Elongation factor 1 gamma Neosartorya fisheri NFIA_009800
|SEQ ID NO: 69 AN1596
||Conserved hypothetical protein Aspergillus terreus ATEG_00056
|SEQ ID NO: 71 AN1597
||Neosartorya fisheri NFIA_009820
|SEQ ID NO: 73 AN1598
||Putative Cytochrome P450 monooxygenase Neosartorya fisheri NFIA_009830
|SEQ ID NO: 74 AN1599
||C6 zinc finger domain protein Neosartorya fisheri NFIA_009840
Example 6. Identifying the product of the activated secondary metabolite cluster in AN1599 -transformant with SPME-GC/MS.
The results of the expression analysis showed highly elevated transcription levels for seven of the predicted secondary metabolite cluster genes. Product was expected to be a diterpenoid compound. Diterpenoids are usually semi-volatile or volatile components, which can be efficiently separated and identified with Gas Chromatography. The method chosen for the analysis of the product in the activated strain was Solid Phase Microextraction - Gas Chromatography / Mass Spectrometry analysis (SPME-GC/MS), which detects semi-volatile and volatile components with minimal handling of the samples.
Conidia of AN1599 -transformant and FGSC A4 were inoculated in 2 mL of YES-media supplemented with 3% gelatine and grown at + 30 °C in 15 mL culture vials shaking 250 rpm for 44 hours. Different amounts of conidia were seeded to get the similar confluency of both AN1599 -transformant and FGSC A4 wild-type control -samples at the end of culturing. The cultures with matching confluencies were subjected to SPME-GC/MS.
Samples were transferred to air-tight SPME-vials. The extraction was done with 100 µm PDMS fibre at +80 °C for 1 hour. After extraction, the analytes were desorbed during 5min at +250 °C in the injector of the gas chromatography. Analytes were separated on Ultra 2 capillary column of 25 m x 0.2 mm with a phase thickness 0.33 µm. The temperature program was: + 40 °C, holding 1min, 9 °C/min increased up to + 130 °C, followed by 2 °C/min increased up to + 230 °C, holding 1min. MS was operated in electron-impact mode at 70 eV, in the scan range m
40-550. Compounds were identified by use of the PAL spectral library. The result is shown in Figure 7 and Figure 8.
The SPME -gas chromatogram showed a major peak at 35,841 minute retention time for AN1599 -transformant fungus. This peak was not present in the FGSC A4 control. This peak was further analyzed by its mass spectrum to be ent
-pimara-8(14),15-diene with 96 % quality. The analysis verified that AN1599 activates an ent
-pimara-8(14),15-diene diterpene cluster in the transformant fungus.
Chemical structure of ent
-pimara-8(14),15-diene. Molecular formula C20
, molecular mass 272,46808 g/mol, IUPAC names: (4aS,4bS,7S,10aS)-7-ethenyl-1,1,4a,7-tetramethyl-3,4,4b,5,6,9,10,10a-octahydro-2H-phenanthrene and 5β,9β,10α,13α-pimara-8(14),15-diene.
Example 7. Recovery of the terpene product and further identification of the product with GC/MS.
Both Aspergillus nidulans
AN1599 -transformant and FGSC A4 strains were grown to confluency in 200 mL YES-media supplemented with 3% gelatin. Mycelia was filtered through sterile Miracloth, wrapped in aluminium foil, and frozen in liquid nitrogen. Mycelial pellets were stored at -80 °C until homogenized with mortar and pestle in liquid nitrogen. The powdered mycelia was weighed and 2 g of mycelia was extracted with 20 mL of hexane:ethyl acetate (1:1) in 100 mL glass Erlenmeyer flasks in ultrasonic water bath for 1 hour in room temperature. Solvent phase of hexane:ethyl acetate -extract was separated by centrifuging the samples at 1500 rpm for 5 minutes at +4 °C.
GC-MS assay of diterpenes
1 µl volume of the extract was injected in a split mode (split ratio 10:1) into Agilent 6890 gas chromatography connected to Mass Selective Detector. Analytes were separated on HP-1 capillary column of dimensions 25m x 0.32mm x 0.17µm. The temperature program began at 100°C, holding 0.5 min and then increased by rate of 10°C/min to final temperature of 320°C, holding 25 min. The flow rate of carrier gas (He) was 1.3 mL/min (constant flow mode). The temperatures of the injector and MS source were 260°C and 230°C, respectively. MS was operated in electron-impact mode at 70eV with full scan mode m
40-550. The result is shown as Figure 9. The identification was made with PAL spectral library.
Example 8. DNA array expression analysis
Both AN1599 -transformant and FGSC A4 strains were subjected to DNA array expression analysis to verify the results of the quantitative real-time PCR and to get a broader understanding of the transcriptional changes in the AN1599 -transformant fungus. DNA array expression analysis enables the screening of the transcriptional levels of all known genes of Aspergillus nidulans.
Sequence source for the 10597 transcripts in the DNA array design was: ftp.ensemblgenomes.org/pub/fungi/release4/fasta/aspergillus_nidulans/cdna/Aspergillus _nidulans.CADRE2.4.cdna.all.fa.gz. Sequence source for the whole genome was: ftp.ensemblgenomes.org/pub/fungi/release-4/embl/aspergillus_nidulans/ Aspergillus_nidulans.0.dat.gz
DNA array chip was custom designed and the chip manufacturing was carried out by Nimblegen using Custom Eukaryotic 12x135K Array format. Expression portion was designed by selecting 6 probes per transcript for 10546 out of 10597 transcripts (51 not found, 18 less than 6 probes per transcript, 114 duplicate probes/exemplars).
Sample preparation for DNA array gene expression analysis.
Three 50 mL cultures were inoculated for both FGSC A4 and AN1599 -transformant strain. The cultures were grown over night at +37 °C shaking incubator at 250 rpm in YES -medium supplemented with gelatine. Each culture flask was monitored for the pH changes during growth and the samples for the DNA array were taken from cultures at pH -values 5,76 to 5,94. This pH -range corresponds to the early exponential growth phase of Aspergillus nidulans
(data not shown). FGSC A4 reached the exponential growth phase in 21,5 hours and the AN1599 -transformant strain in 26 hours. Mycelia were filtered through sterile Miracloth and three 100 µL samples of wet mycelia were scooped to microfuge tubes from two separate culture flasks of each strain giving a total of six replicates for each strain, 12 samples altogether. Mycelia were frozen in liquid nitrogen and the total RNA was purified as in example 5. RNA quality was assessed with the standard protocol of Agilent 2100 Bioanalyzer by Agilent Technologies. 30 - 50 µg of total RNA was sent to RocheNimblegen for cDNA synthesis, probe hybridization, scan and preliminary analysis.
Example 9. Analysis of the DNA array
DNA array data was analyzed with ArrayStar program from DNASTAR. Expression fold changes were calculated using 99% significance level measured with Student's T-test. P-values for all the fold change differences were ≤ 0,01. The expression profile of the terpene biosynthetic gene cluster is represented in Figure 6 with quantitative real-time PCR results. The results of the DNA array were consistent with the qPCR data for the cluster genes. DNA array expression analysis revealed a total of 66 genes with more than 5-fold upregulation in the AN1599 -transformant compared to FGSC A4 control strain. These 66 genes included the seven terpene biosynthetic cluster genes (AN1592, AN1593, AN1594, AN1595, AN1596, AN1597 and AN1598). 75 genes were more than 5-fold downregulated in the transformant strain. Interestingly, many of the highly downregulated genes were identified as other secondary metabolite biosynthesis genes with BLASTp and pfam-homology searches, such as genes coding for proteins of polyketide and nonribosomal peptide biosynthetic pathways. None of the other terpene clusters showed any significant change in the expression levels in the transformant compared to the control.
This proves the hypothesis of the specific upregulation of the target diterpene cluster genes, and shows that other possibly competing secondary biosynthetic pathways stay either silent or are further downregulated when the biosynthetic pathway for ent
-pimara-8(14),15-diene is activated. In addition, expression of many transporter and transferase - genes were upregulated in the AN1599 -transformant. This can be beneficial for the production of the diterpene compound and for the wellbeing of the fungus itself by protecting it from the accumulation of harmful side products. The holistic transcriptional regulation in the AN1599 -transformant due to the cluster activation supports the specific production of ent
Figure 10 shows the holistic effect of the transcriptional regulation in the AN1599 - transformant, where other secondary metabolite clusters are either downregulated or stay at the level of the control strain.
Example 10. Sequence data for the whole genomic area of the terpene biosynthetic gene cluster
The genomic sequence for the identified terpene biosynthetic gene cluster, SEQ ID NO: 57, has been adapted from NCBI webpage (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/nuccore/BN001307) TPA_reasm: Aspergillus nidulans
FGSC A4 chromosome VII, sequence coordinates 1222669 to 1249423. This sequence covers 1499 base long promoter region for the first putative cluster gene, AN1591, and a 1499 base long terminator region for the last putative cluster gene, AN1599. The whole genomic sequence is 26775 bases long and it covers genes AN1591 (SEQ ID NO: 58), AN1592 (SEQ ID NO: 59), AN1593 (SEQ ID NO: 60), AN1594 (SEQ ID NO: 61), AN1595 (SEQ ID NO: 62), AN1596 (SEQ ID NO: 63), AN1597 (SEQ ID NO: 64), AN1598 (SEQ ID NO: 65), and AN1599 (SEQ ID NO: 1).
Arvas et al., Comparison of protein coding gene contents of the fungal phyla Pezizomycotina and Saccharomycotina, BMC Genomics, 2007, Sep 17;8:325.
Altschul et al., Nucleic Acids Res., 1997, Sep 1;25(17):3389-402, Gapped BLAST and PSI- BLAST: a new generation of protein database search programs.
Arnaud MB et al., "Aspergillus Genome Database" www.aspergillusgenome.org/ (10.9.2010)
Bok JW, Hoffmeister D, Maggio-Hall LA, Murillo R, Glasner JD, Keller NP. Genomic mining for Aspergillus natural products. Chem Biol. 2006 Jan;13(1):31-7
Chiou CH, Miller M et al (2002) Chromosomal location plays a role in regulation of aflatoxin gene expression in Aspergillus parasiticus. Appl Environ Microbiol 68(1):306-315
Current Protocols in Molecular Biology, John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2004.
Davis MA, Hynes MJ (1991) Regulatory circuits in Aspergillus nidulans. In: Bennett JW (ed) More gene manipulations in fungi. Academic, New York, pp 151-189
Galagan et al., J.E., Sequencing of Aspergillus nidulans and comparative analysis with A. fumigatus and A. oryzae, Nature 438 (7071), 1105-1115 (2005).
Jones et al., Molecular Biology of the Cell, Vol. 18, 2123-2136, June 2007
Kaminskyj S., Protocol by Susan G. W. Kaminskyj, Dept. Biology, Univ. Saskatchewan, 112 Science Place, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, CANADA S7N 5E2, adapted from the Fungal Genetics Stock Center webpage, www.fgsc.net/fgn48/Kaminskyj.htm
Kuorelahti et al., Molecular Microbiology (2006) 61(4), 1060-1068.
Lubertozzi, David; Keasling, Jay D, Journal of Industrial Microbiology & Biotechnology (2008), 35(10), 1191-1198 CODEN: JIMBFL; ISSN: 1367-5435
Miller BL, Miller KY et al (1987) Position-dependent and position-independent mechanisms regulate cell-specific expression of the spoc1 gene-cluster of Aspergillus-Nidulans. Mol Cell Biol 7 (1):427-434
Mulder et al., Nucleic Acids Res., 2005, Jan 1;33(Database issue):D201-5, InterPro, progress and status in 2005.
Osbourn A, Secondary metabolic gene clusters: ecolutionary toolkits for chemical innovation. Trends in Genetics 26 (2010) 449-457.
Palmer JM, Keller NP. Curr Opin Microbiol. 2010 Aug;13(4):431-6. Epub 2010 Jun 2.
Pfaffl M.W., A new mathematical model for relative quantification in real-time RT-PCR., Nucleic Acids Res. 2001, 29(9):e45. Microsoft Excel spread sheet for the calculations was adapted from pathmicro.med.sc.edu/ pcr/realtime-home.htmwit
Ro D-K., Ouellet M., Paradise E. M., Burd H., Eng D, Paddon C. J., Newman J. D. and Keasling J. D., Induction of multiple pleiotropic drug resistance genes in yeast engineered to produce an increased level of anti-malarial drug precursor, artemisinic acid, BMC Biotechnology 2008, 8:83
Roze LV et al. (2007) The initiation and pattern of spread of histone H4 acetylation parallel the order of transcriptional activation of genes in the aflatoxin gene cluster. Mol. Microbiol. 66, 713-726.
Sakai K., Kinoshita H., Shimizu T., Nihira T. Construction of citrinin gene cluster exparession system in heterologous Aspergillus oryzae, J. Biosci. Bioeng (2008) 106(5), 466-472
Verdoes J.C., Punt P. J. et al. (1995) Molecular-genetic strain improvement for the overproduction of fungal proteins by filamentous fungi. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 43(2):195-205
<110> Valtion teknillinen tutkimuskeskus
<120> METHOD FOR PRODUCING TERPENES
<170> PatentIn version 3.4
<213> Aspergillus nidulans
<213> Aspergillus nidulans
<213> Aspergillus nidulans
gcactagttc atgtgtttct atctgcgcaa 30
gcactagtat gtacccgtgg agttcgaca 29
gcactagtct acggcacagg aacaaaatta g 31
ttgggcccat ggtccccaac ggcgagaga 29
ttgggcccat gtttgaactg gagactccgt 30
gcactagttt atcgccgtgt cgaatgctgc 30
<213> Aspergillus nidulans
<213> Aspergillus nidulans
<213> Aspergillus nidulans
ccatccttcc catcccttat 20
caattctgcg gacgacaata 20
gcatcgtgga ggttcttgat 20
tcccagtacc tggagtggac 20
gtaaggatct gtacggcaac 20
agatccacat ctgttggaag 20
gaatggcgta ggactgttg 19
cgtatccata aactcggtaa tc 22
tggaggtctt gacagagatg 20
ctccattgtg caggtaattc 20
gaccactctc aacaagatgc 20
ctgaaatgcg ttcctttg 18
aacacgtctt ttccgctatc 20
gatcaaagag tgagctttcg 20
tcgcagagtg caaaagatag 20
tctgtgacat cgacaaacac 20
agtactggga tttggctacg 20
atgcaccaga tagttcttcg 20
aacatgcagt ctcctgtgc 19
acgaaaccca taaaagaagg 20
ggctgaaagt aatctatcag aaaag 25
tccatcagga agaatccag 19
catacgtggc tggagctg 18
gaagcgggaa gagtttgg 18
gaccagaggg gatgttctac 20
actctgtccc tggaatgaag 20
caagattctg cgtcttcatc 20
taataggcga atctggtgtc 20
gatattgtag ccctgtgtgc 20
acatgctgat cacgtaaagc 20
aaatagacga ctcccacctg 20
ccgtctacca agtagtcacg 20
tgggctttac tttcagatcc 20
tgttcttggc cccttctc 18
gtcacggcga tttatcttg 19
cagcattgcc ttttgagg 18
gaccgcaagt atctcgtg 18
tgggtaaatg cataaccatc 20
gcagcagaag aagctgaac 19
gggaggaggt tctgaataaa g 21
gcatagctgg tggtatatcg 20
agctagcatt cttgcgttc 19
cattcattcg cttgtagagg 20
caccttttct gtttccacac 20
<213> Aspergillus nidulans
<213> Aspergillus nidulans
<213> Aspergillus nidulans
<213> Aspergillus nidulans
<213> Aspergillus nidulans
<213> Aspergillus nidulans
<213> Aspergillus nidulans
<213> Aspergillus nidulans
<213> Aspergillus nidulans
<213> Aspergillus nidulans
<213> Aspergillus nidulans
<213> Aspergillus nidulans
<213> Aspergillus nidulans
<213> Aspergillus nidulans
<213> Aspergillus nidulans
<213> Aspergillus nidulans
<213> Aspergillus nidulans
<213> Aspergillus nidulans