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Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2007 Sep;71(9):2105-23. Epub 2007 Sep 7.

Molecular and genetic studies of fusarium trichothecene biosynthesis: pathways, genes, and evolution.

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Plant & Microbial Metabolic Engineering Research Unit, Discovery Research Institute, RIKEN, 2-1 Hirosawa, Wako, Saitama 351-0198, Japan.


Trichothecenes are a large family of sesquiterpenoid secondary metabolites of Fusarium species (e.g., F. graminearum) and other molds. They are major mycotoxins that can cause serious problems when consumed via contaminated cereal grains. In the past 20 years, an outline of the trichothecene biosynthetic pathway has been established based on the results of precursor feeding experiments and blocked mutant analyses. Following the isolation of the pathway gene Tri5 encoding the first committed enzyme trichodiene synthase, 10 biosynthesis genes (Tri genes; two regulatory genes, seven pathway genes, and one transporter gene) were functionally identified in the Tri5 gene cluster. At least three pathway genes, Tri101 (separated alone), and Tri1 and Tri16 (located in the Tri1-Tri16 two-gene cluster), were found outside of the Tri5 gene cluster. In this review, we summarize the current understanding of the pathways of biosynthesis, the functions of cloned Tri genes, and the evolution of Tri genes, focusing on Fusarium species.

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