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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2011 Nov;77(21):7823-9. doi: 10.1128/AEM.05822-11. Epub 2011 Sep 16.

Beta hydroxylation of glycolipids from Ustilago maydis and Pseudozyma flocculosa by an NADPH-dependent β-hydroxylase.

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  • 1Département de Phytologie, Centre de Recherche en Horticulture, Université Laval, Sainte-Foy, Québec G1V0A6, Canada.


Flocculosin and ustilagic acid (UA), two highly similar antifungal cellobiose lipids, are respectively produced by Pseudozyma flocculosa, a biocontrol agent, and Ustilago maydis, a plant pathogen. Both glycolipids contain a short-chain fatty acid hydroxylated at the β position but differ in the long fatty acid, which is hydroxylated at the α position in UA and at the β position in flocculosin. In both organisms, the biosynthesis genes are arranged in large clusters. The functions of most genes have already been characterized, but those of the P. flocculosa fhd1 gene and its homolog from U. maydis, uhd1, have remained undefined. The deduced amino acid sequences of these genes show homology to those of short-chain dehydrogenases and reductases (SDR). We disrupted the uhd1 gene in U. maydis and analyzed the secreted UA. uhd1 deletion strains produced UA lacking the β-hydroxyl group of the short-chain fatty acid. To analyze the function of P. flocculosa Fhd1, the corresponding gene was used to complement U. maydis Δuhd1 mutants. Fhd1 was able to restore wild-type UA production, indicating that Fhd1 is responsible for β hydroxylation of the flocculosin short-chain fatty acid. We also investigated a P. flocculosa homolog of the U. maydis long-chain fatty-acid alpha hydroxylase Ahd1. The P. flocculosa ahd1 gene, which does not reside in the flocculosin gene cluster, was introduced into U. maydis Δahd1 mutant strains. P. flocculosa Ahd1 neither complemented the U. maydis Δahd1 phenotype nor resulted in the production of β-hydroxylated UA. This suggests that P. flocculosa Ahd1 is not involved in flocculosin hydroxylation.

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