Systematic Identification of Anti-Fungal Drug Targets by a Metabolic Network Approach
Phosphatidylcholines (PCs) are a class of major cell membrane phospholipids that participate in many physiological processes. Three genes, choA, choB and choC, have been proposed to function in the endogenous biosynthesis of PC in Aspergillus nidulans. In this study, we characterize the choC gene encoding a putative highly conserved phospholipid methyltransferase. The previously reported choC3 mutant allele results from a mutation leading to the E177K amino acid substitution. The transcript of choC accumulates at high levels during vegetative growth and early asexual developmental phases. The deletion of choC causes severe impairment of vegetative growth, swelling of hyphal tips and the lack of both asexual and sexual development, suggesting the requirement of ChoC and PC in growth and development. Noticeably, supplementation of the mutant with the penultimate precursor of PC N, N-dimethylaminoethanol leads to full recovery of vegetative growth, but incomplete progression of asexual and sexual development, implying differential roles of PC and its intermediates in fungal growth and development. Importantly, while the choC deletion mutant shows reduced vegetative growth and precocious cell death until day 4, it regains hyphal proliferation and cell viability from day 5, indicating the presence of an alternative route for cellular membrane function in A. nidulans.