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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Feb 28;114(9):E1578-E1586. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1616543114. Epub 2017 Feb 13.

Regulatory cascade and biological activity of Beauveria bassiana oosporein that limits bacterial growth after host death.

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Biotechnology Research Center, Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China;
Biotechnology Research Center, Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China.
Department of Microbiology and Cell Science, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The regulatory network and biological functions of the fungal secondary metabolite oosporein have remained obscure. Beauveria bassiana has evolved the ability to parasitize insects and outcompete microbial challengers for assimilation of host nutrients. A novel zinc finger transcription factor, BbSmr1 (B. bassiana secondary metabolite regulator 1), was identified in a screen for oosporein overproduction. Deletion of Bbsmr1 resulted in up-regulation of the oosporein biosynthetic gene cluster (OpS genes) and constitutive oosporein production. Oosporein production was abolished in double mutants of Bbsmr1 and a second transcription factor, OpS3, within the oosporein gene cluster (ΔBbsmr1ΔOpS3), indicating that BbSmr1 acts as a negative regulator of OpS3 expression. Real-time quantitative PCR and a GFP promoter fusion construct of OpS1, the oosporein polyketide synthase, indicated that OpS1 is expressed mainly in insect cadavers at 24-48 h after death. Bacterial colony analysis in B. bassiana-infected insect hosts revealed increasing counts until host death, with a dramatic decrease (∼90%) after death that correlated with oosporein production. In vitro studies verified the inhibitory activity of oosporein against bacteria derived from insect cadavers. These results suggest that oosporein acts as an antimicrobial compound to limit microbial competition on B. bassiana-killed hosts, allowing the fungus to maximally use host nutrients to grow and sporulate on infected cadavers.


Beauveria bassiana; biological role; fungal–bacterial competition; oosporein; transcription factor

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