Chromosomal location plays a role in regulation of aflatoxin gene expression in Aspergillus parasiticus

C. H. Chiou, M. Miller, D. L. Wilson, F. Trail, J. E. Linz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The nor-1 gene in the filamentous fungus Aspergillus parasiticus encodes a ketoreductase involved in aflatoxin biosynthesis. To study environmental influences on nor-1 expression, we generated plasmid pAPGUSNNB containing a nor-1 promoter-β-glucuronidase (GUS) (encoded by uidA) reporter fusion with niaD (encodes nitrate reductase) as a selectable marker. niaD transformants of A. parasiticus strain NR-1 (niaD) carried pAPGUSNNB integrated predominantly at the nor-1 or niaD locus. Expression of the native nor-1 and nor-1::GUS reporter was compared in transformants grown under aflatoxin-inducing conditions by Northern and Western analyses and by qualitative and quantitative GUS activity assays. The timing and level of nor-1 promoter function with pAPGUSNNB integrated at nor-1 was similar to that observed for the native nor-1 gene. In contrast, nor-1 promoter activity in pAPGUSNNB and a second nor-1::GUS reporter construct, pBNG3.0, was not detectable when integration occurred at niaD. Because niaD-dependent regulation could account for the absence of expression at niaD, a third chromosomal location was analyzed using pAPGUSNP, which contained nor-1::GUS plus pyrG (encodes OMP decarboxylase) as a selectable marker. GUS expression was detectable only when pAPGUSNP integrated at nor-1 and was not detectable at pyrG, even under growth conditions that required pyrG expression. nor-1::GUS is regulated similarly to the native nor-1 gene when it is integrated at its homologous site within the aflatoxin gene cluster but is not expressed at native nor-1 levels at two locations outside of the aflatoxin gene cluster. We conclude that the GUS reporter system can be used effectively to measure nor-1 promoter activity and that nor-1 is subject to position-dependent regulation in the A. parasiticus chromosome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-315
Number of pages10
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology

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