Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, Vol.103, No.9, 3863-3874, 2019
Regulation of the cutinases expressed by Aspergillus nidulans and evaluation of their role in cutin degradation
Four cutinase genes are encoded in the genome of the saprophytic fungus Aspergillus nidulans, but only two of them have proven to codify for active cutinases. However, their overall roles in cutin degradation are unknown, and there is scarce information on the regulatory effectors of their expression. In this work, the expression of the cutinase genes was assayed by multiplex qRT-PCR in cultures grown in media containing both inducer and repressor carbon sources. The genes ancut1 and ancut2 were induced by cutin and its monomers, while ancut3 was constitutively expressed. Besides, cutin induced ancut4 only under oxidative stress conditions. An in silico analysis of the upstream regulatory sequences suggested binding regions for the lipid metabolism transcription factors (TF) FarA for ancut1 and ancut2 while FarB for ancut3. For ancut4, the analysis suggested binding to NapA (the stress response TF). These binding possibilities were experimentally tested by transcriptional analysis using the A. nidulans mutants AN Delta farA, AN Delta farB, and AN Delta napA. Regarding cutin degradation, spectroscopic and chromatographic methods showed similar products from ANCUT1 and ANCUT3. In addition, ANCUT1 produced 9,10-dihydroxy hexadecanoic acid, suggesting an endo-cleavage action of this enzyme. Regarding ANCUT2 and ANCUT4, they produced omega fatty acids. Our results confirmed the cutinolytic activity of the four cutinases, allowed identification of their specific roles in the cutinolytic system and highlighted their differences in the regulatory mechanisms and affinity towards natural substrates. This information is expected to impact the cutinase production processes and broaden their current biotechnological applications.