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Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2004 Jan;68(1):146-52.

Cloning of a gene cluster responsible for the biosynthesis of diterpene aphidicolin, a specific inhibitor of DNA polymerase alpha.

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Department of Bioresource Engineering, Faculty of Agriculture, Yamagata University, Yamagata, Japan.


The fungal diterpene, aphidicolin, is a well-known specific inhibitor of DNA polymerase alpha. Terpenoids are an important class of natural products. However, identification of the biosynthetic gene cluster in terpenoids is relatively rare compared with another important class of natural products, polyketides. To explore a reliable identification method for the biosynthetic gene cluster in fungal diterpenoids, cloning of the biosynthetic gene cluster of aphidicolin was employed. The application of a simple PCR method for genome walking based on the sequence of cDNA encoding aphidicolan-16beta-ol synthase (ACS) allowed us to analyze a 15.6-kb region of the Phoma betae genomic DNA. Six ORFs, PbGGS, ACS, PbP450-1, PbP450-2, PbTP, and PbTF were found in this region, and respectively expected to encode geranylgeranyl diphosphate synthase, diterpene synthase, two cytochrome P-450s, the transporter and transcription factor. Their amino acid sequences and introns were deduced by a corresponding cDNA analysis. This study shows that simple PCR-based genome walking without constructing a genomic DNA library is useful for identification of a small gene cluster. We propose a general strategy for the cloning the biosynthetic genes of fungal diterpenoids by using fungal GGS.

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