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Eukaryot Cell. 2012 Apr;11(4):482-93. doi: 10.1128/EC.05327-11. Epub 2012 Feb 17.

Deciphering transcriptional regulatory mechanisms associated with hemicellulose degradation in Neurospora crassa.

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Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, University of California, Berkeley, California, USA.


Hemicellulose, the second most abundant plant biomass fraction after cellulose, is widely viewed as a potential substrate for the production of liquid fuels and other value-added materials. Degradation of hemicellulose by filamentous fungi requires production of many different enzymes, which are induced by biopolymers or its derivatives and regulated mainly at the transcriptional level through transcription factors (TFs). Neurospora crassa, a model filamentous fungus, expresses and secretes enzymes required for plant cell wall deconstruction. To better understand genes specifically associated with degradation of hemicellulose, we applied secretome and transcriptome analysis to N. crassa grown on beechwood xylan. We identified 34 secreted proteins and 353 genes with elevated transcription on xylan. The xylanolytic phenotype of strains with deletions in genes identified from the secretome and transcriptome analysis of the wild type was assessed, revealing functions for known and unknown proteins associated with hemicellulose degradation. By evaluating phenotypes of strains containing deletions of predicted TF genes in N. crassa, we identified a TF (XLR-1; xylan degradation regulator 1) essential for hemicellulose degradation that is an ortholog to XlnR/XYR1 in Aspergillus and Trichoderma species, respectively, a major transcriptional regulator of genes encoding both cellulases and hemicellulases. Deletion of xlr-1 in N. crassa abolished growth on xylan and xylose, but growth on cellulose and cellulolytic activity were only slightly affected. To determine the regulatory mechanisms for hemicellulose degradation, we explored the transcriptional regulon of XLR-1 under xylose, xylanolytic, and cellulolytic conditions. XLR-1 regulated only some predicted hemicellulase genes in N. crassa and was required for a full induction of several cellulase genes. Hemicellulase gene expression was induced by a combination of release from carbon catabolite repression (CCR) and induction. This systematic analysis illustrates the similarities and differences in regulation of hemicellulose degradation among filamentous fungi.

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