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Microbiology. 2011 Nov;157(Pt 11):3036-48. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.051896-0. Epub 2011 Aug 4.

PcchiB1, encoding a class V chitinase, is affected by PcVelA and PcLaeA, and is responsible for cell wall integrity in Penicillium chrysogenum.

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Christian Doppler Laboratory for 'Fungal Biotechnology', Lehrstuhl für Allgemeine und Molekulare Botanik, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universitätsstraße 150, 44780 Bochum, Germany.


Penicillin production in Penicillium chrysogenum is controlled by PcVelA and PcLaeA, two components of the regulatory velvet-like complex. Comparative microarray analysis with mutants lacking PcVelA or PcLaeA revealed a set of 62 common genes affected by the loss of both components. A downregulated gene in both knockout strains is PcchiB1, potentially encoding a class V chitinase. Under nutrient-depleted conditions, transcript levels of PcchiB1 are strongly upregulated, and the gene product contributes to more than 50 % of extracellular chitinase activity. Functional characterization by generating PcchiB1-disruption strains revealed that PcChiB1 is responsible for cell wall integrity and pellet formation in P. chrysogenum. Further, fluorescence microscopy with a DsRed-labelled chitinase suggests a cell wall association of the protein. An unexpected phenotype occurred when knockout strains were grown on media containing N-acetylglucosamine as the sole C and N source, where, in contrast to the recipient, a penicillin producer strain, the mutants and an ancestral strain show distinct mycelial growth. We discuss the relevance of this class V chitinase for morphology in an industrially important fungus.

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