Increased metabolite production by deletion of an HDA1-type histone deacetylase in the phytopathogenic fungi, Magnaporthe oryzae (Pyricularia oryzae) and Fusarium asiaticum

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Histone deacetylases (HDACs) play an important role in the regulation of chromatin structure and gene expression. We found that dark pigmentation of Magnaporthe oryzae (anamorph Pyricularia oryzae) ΔMohda1, a mutant strain in which an orthologue of the yeast HDA1 was disrupted by double cross-over homologous recombination, was significantly stimulated in liquid culture. Analysis of metabolites in a ΔMohda1 mutant culture revealed that the accumulation of shunt products of the 1,8-dihydroxynaphthalene melanin and ergosterol pathways were significantly enhanced compared to the wild-type strain. Northern blot analysis of the ΔMohda1 mutant revealed transcriptional activation of three melanin genes that are dispersed throughout the genome of M. oryzae. The effect of deletion of the yeast HDA1 orthologue was also observed in Fusarium asiaticum from the Fusarium graminearum species complex; the HDF2 deletion mutant produced increased levels of nivalenol-type trichothecenes. These results suggest that histone modification via HDA1-type HDAC regulates the production of natural products in filamentous fungi.

Significance and Impact of the Study

Natural products of fungi have significant impacts on human welfare, in both detrimental and beneficial ways. Although HDA1-type histone deacetylase is not essential for vegetative growth, deletion of the gene affects the expression of clustered secondary metabolite genes in some fungi. Here, we report that such phenomena are also observed in physically unlinked genes required for melanin biosynthesis in the rice blast fungus. In addition, production of Fusarium trichothecenes, previously reported to be unaffected by HDA1 deletion, was significantly upregulated in another Fusarium species. Thus, the HDA1-inactivation strategy may be regarded as a general approach for overproduction and/or discovery of fungal metabolites.

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