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Fungal Genet Biol. 2009 Jan;46(1):77-84. doi: 10.1016/j.fgb.2008.09.015. Epub 2008 Oct 12.

Aspergillus westerdijkiae polyketide synthase gene "aoks1" is involved in the biosynthesis of ochratoxin A.

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Laboratoire de Génie Chimique UMR5503 (CNRS/INPT/UPS), Ecole Nationale Supérieure Agronomique de Toulouse, Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse, 1, Avenue de l'Agrobiopôle, BP32607, 31326 Castanet Tolosan, France.


Ochratoxin A (OTA) is a potential nephrotoxic, teratogenic, immunogenic, hepatotoxic and carcinogenic mycotoxin, produced by Aspergillus westerdijkiae NRRL 3174. Herein we describe the characterization of a putative OTA-polyketide synthase gene "aoks1", cloned by using gene walking approach. The predicted amino acid sequence of the 2kb clone display 34-60% similarities to different polyketide synthase genes including lovastatine biosynthesis gene "lovb" in A. terreus, compactin biosynthesis gene "mlcA" in Penicillium citrinum and OTA biosynthesis gene "otapksPN" in P. nordicum. Based on the reverse transcription PCR and kinetic secondary metabolites production studies, aoks1 expression was found to be associated with OTA biosynthesis. Further a mutant, in which the aoks1 gene was inactivated by Escherichia coli hygromycin B phosphotransferase gene, lost the capacity to produce OTA, but still producing mellein. To our knowledge this report describes for the first time characterization of a gene involved in OTA biosynthesis, with the information about mellein which was proposed in the literature to be an intermediate OTA. This study also suggests that aoks1 may be the second polyketide synthase gene required for OTA biosynthesis in A. westerdijkiae NRRL 3174.

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