RNA-seq reveals the pan-transcriptomic impact of attenuating the gliotoxin self-protection mechanism in Aspergillus fumigatus


Aspergillus fumigatus produces a number of secondary metabolites, one of which, gliotoxin, has been shown to exhibit anti-fungal activity. Thus, A. fumigatus must be able to protect itself against gliotoxin. Indeed one of the genes in the gliotoxin biosynthetic gene cluster in A. fumigatus, gliT, is required for self-protection against the toxin- however the global self-protection mechanism deployed is unclear. RNA-seq was employed to identify genes differentially regulated upon exposure to gliotoxin in A. fumigatus wild-type and A. fumigatus ∆gliT, a strain that is hypersensitive to gliotoxin. Deletion of A. fumigatus gliT resulted in altered expression of 208 genes (log2 fold change of 1.5) when compared to A. fumigatus wild-type, of which 175 genes were up-regulated and 33 genes were down-regulated. Expression of 164 genes was differentially regulated (log2 fold change of 1.5) in A. fumigatus wild-type when exposed to gliotoxin, consisting of 101 genes with up-regulated expression and 63 genes with down-regulated expression. Interestingly, a much larger number of genes, 1700, were found to be differentially regulated (log2 fold change of 1.5) in A. fumigatus ∆gliT when challenged with gliotoxin. These consisted of 508 genes with up-regulated expression, and 1192 genes with down-regulated expression. Functional Catalogue (FunCat) classification of differentially regulated genes revealed an enrichment of genes involved in both primary metabolic functions and secondary metabolism. Specifically, genes involved in gliotoxin biosynthesis, helvolic acid biosynthesis, siderophore-iron transport genes and also nitrogen metabolism genes and ribosome biogenesis genes underwent altered expression. It was confirmed that gliotoxin biosynthesis is induced upon exposure to exogenous gliotoxin, production of unrelated secondary metabolites is attenuated in A. fumigatus ∆gliT, while quantitative proteomic analysis confirmed disrupted translation in A. fumigatus ∆gliT challenged with exogenous gliotoxin. This study presents the first global investigation of the transcriptional response to exogenous gliotoxin in A. fumigatus wild-type and the hyper-sensitive strain, ∆gliT. Our data highlight the global and extensive affects of exogenous gliotoxin on a sensitive strain devoid of a self-protection mechanism and infer that GliT functionality is required for the optimal biosynthesis of selected secondary metabolites in A. fumigatus.

DOI: 10.1186/1471-2164-15-894

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@inproceedings{OKeeffe2014RNAseqRT, title={RNA-seq reveals the pan-transcriptomic impact of attenuating the gliotoxin self-protection mechanism in Aspergillus fumigatus}, author={Grainne O’Keeffe and Stephen Hammel and Rebecca A Owens and Thomas M Keane and David A Fitzpatrick and Gary W Jones and Sean Doyle}, booktitle={BMC Genomics}, year={2014} }