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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Feb 20; 93(4): 1418–1422.

Twenty-five coregulated transcripts define a sterigmatocystin gene cluster in Aspergillus nidulans.


Sterigmatocystin (ST) and the aflatoxins (AFs), related fungal secondary metabolites, are among the most toxic, mutagenic, and carcinogenic natural products known. The ST biosynthetic pathway in Aspergillus nidulans is estimated to involve at least 15 enzymatic activities, while certain Aspergillus parasiticus, Aspergillus flavus, and Aspergillus nomius strains contain additional activities that convert ST to AF. We have characterized a 60-kb region in the A. nidulans genome and find it contains many, if not all, of the genes needed for ST biosynthesis. This region includes verA, a structural gene previously shown to be required for ST biosynthesis, and 24 additional closely spaced transcripts ranging in size from 0.6 to 7.2 kb that are coordinately induced only under ST-producing conditions. Each end of this gene cluster is demarcated by transcripts that are expressed under both ST-inducing and non-ST-inducing conditions. Deduced polypeptide sequences of regions within this cluster had a high percentage of identity with enzymes that have activities predicted for ST/AF biosynthesis, including a polyketide synthase, a fatty acid synthase (alpha and beta subunits), five monooxygenases, four dehydrogenases, an esterase, an 0-methyltransferase, a reductase, an oxidase, and a zinc cluster DNA binding protein. A revised system for naming the genes of the ST pathway is presented.

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