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Fungal Genet Biol. 2006 Oct;43(10):679-93. Epub 2006 Jun 12.

A complex gene cluster for indole-diterpene biosynthesis in the grass endophyte Neotyphodium lolii.

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Centre for Functional Genomics, Institute of Molecular BioSciences, Massey University, Private Bag 11222, Palmerston North, New Zealand.


Lolitrems are a structurally diverse group of indole-diterpene mycotoxins synthesized by Epichloƫ/Neotyphodium endophytes in association with Pooid grasses. Using suppression subtractive hybridization combined with chromosome walking, two clusters of genes for lolitrem biosynthesis were isolated from Neotyphodium lolii, a mutualistic endophyte of perennial ryegrass. The first cluster contains five genes, ltmP, ltmQ, ltmF, ltmC, and ltmB, four of which appear to be orthologues of functionally characterized genes from Penicillium paxilli. The second cluster contains two genes, ltmE and ltmJ, that appear to be unique to lolitrem biosynthesis. The two clusters are separated by a 16 kb AT-rich sequence that includes two imperfect direct repeats. A previously isolated ltm cluster composed of ltmG, ltmM, and ltmK, is linked to these two new clusters by 35 kb of AT-rich retrotransposon relic sequence. All 10 genes at this complex LTM locus were highly expressed in planta but expression was very low or undetectable in mycelia. ltmM and ltmC were shown to be functional orthologues of P. paxilli paxM and paxC, respectively. This work provides a genetic foundation for elucidating the metabolic grid responsible for the diversity of indole-diterpenes synthesized by N. lolii.

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