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Biotechnol Biofuels. 2014 Apr 1;7(1):46. doi: 10.1186/1754-6834-7-46.

Functional characterization of a xylose transporter in Aspergillus nidulans.

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1
Departamento de Ciências Farmacêuticas, Faculdade de Ciências Farmacêuticas de Ribeirão Preto, Universidade de São Paulo, Av, do Café S/N, CEP 14040-903 Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo, Brazil. ggoldman@usp.br.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The production of bioethanol from lignocellulosic feedstocks will only become economically feasible when the majority of cellulosic and hemicellulosic biopolymers can be efficiently converted into bioethanol. The main component of cellulose is glucose, whereas hemicelluloses mainly consist of pentose sugars such as D-xylose and L-arabinose. The genomes of filamentous fungi such as A. nidulans encode a multiplicity of sugar transporters with broad affinities for hexose and pentose sugars. Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which has a long history of use in industrial fermentation processes, is not able to efficiently transport or metabolize pentose sugars (e.g. xylose). Subsequently, the aim of this study was to identify xylose-transporters from A. nidulans, as potential candidates for introduction into S. cerevisiae in order to improve xylose utilization.

RESULTS:

In this study, we identified the A. nidulans xtrD (xylose transporter) gene, which encodes a Major Facilitator Superfamily (MFS) transporter, and which was specifically induced at the transcriptional level by xylose in a XlnR-dependent manner, while being partially repressed by glucose in a CreA-dependent manner. We evaluated the ability of xtrD to functionally complement the S. cerevisiae EBY.VW4000 strain which is unable to grow on glucose, fructose, mannose or galactose as single carbon source. In S. cerevisiae, XtrD was targeted to the plasma membrane and its expression was able to restore growth on xylose, glucose, galactose, and mannose as single carbon sources, indicating that this transporter accepts multiple sugars as a substrate. XtrD has a high affinity for xylose, and may be a high affinity xylose transporter. We were able to select a S. cerevisiae mutant strain that had increased xylose transport when expressing the xtrD gene.

CONCLUSIONS:

This study characterized the regulation and substrate specificity of an A. nidulans transporter that represents a good candidate for further directed mutagenesis. Investigation into the area of sugar transport in fungi presents a crucial step for improving the S. cerevisiae xylose metabolism. Moreover, we have demonstrated that the introduction of adaptive mutations beyond the introduced xylose utilization genes is able to improve S. cerevisiae xylose metabolism.

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