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Open Access Research

L-Rhamnose induction of Aspergillus nidulans α-L-rhamnosidase genes is glucose repressed via a CreA-independent mechanism acting at the level of inducer uptake

Juan A Tamayo-Ramos12, Michel Flipphi1, Ester Pardo1, Paloma Manzanares1 and Margarita Orejas1*

Author Affiliations

1 Instituto de Agroquímica y Tecnología de Alimentos, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Agustín Escardino 7, 46980 Paterna, Valencia, Spain

2 Present address: Fungal Systems Biology, Laboratory of Systems and Synthetic Biology, Wageningen University, Dreijenplein 10, 6703 HB Wageningen, The Netherlands

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Microbial Cell Factories 2012, 11:26  doi:10.1186/1475-2859-11-26

Published: 21 February 2012

Abstract

Background

Little is known about the structure and regulation of fungal α-L-rhamnosidase genes despite increasing interest in the biotechnological potential of the enzymes that they encode. Whilst the paradigmatic filamentous fungus Aspergillus nidulans growing on L-rhamnose produces an α-L-rhamnosidase suitable for oenological applications, at least eight genes encoding putative α-L-rhamnosidases have been found in its genome. In the current work we have identified the gene (rhaE) encoding the former activity, and characterization of its expression has revealed a novel regulatory mechanism. A shared pattern of expression has also been observed for a second α-L-rhamnosidase gene, (AN10277/rhaA).

Results

Amino acid sequence data for the oenological α-L-rhamnosidase were determined using MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry and correspond to the amino acid sequence deduced from AN7151 (rhaE). The cDNA of rhaE was expressed in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and yielded pNP-rhamnohydrolase activity. Phylogenetic analysis has revealed this eukaryotic α-L-rhamnosidase to be the first such enzyme found to be more closely related to bacterial rhamnosidases than other α-L-rhamnosidases of fungal origin. Northern analyses of diverse A. nidulans strains cultivated under different growth conditions indicate that rhaA and rhaE are induced by L-rhamnose and repressed by D-glucose as well as other carbon sources, some of which are considered to be non-repressive growth substrates. Interestingly, the transcriptional repression is independent of the wide domain carbon catabolite repressor CreA. Gene induction and glucose repression of these rha genes correlate with the uptake, or lack of it, of the inducing carbon source L-rhamnose, suggesting a prominent role for inducer exclusion in repression.

Conclusions

The A. nidulans rhaE gene encodes an α-L-rhamnosidase phylogenetically distant to those described in filamentous fungi, and its expression is regulated by a novel CreA-independent mechanism. The identification of rhaE and the characterization of its regulation will facilitate the design of strategies to overproduce the encoded enzyme - or homologs from other fungi - for industrial applications. Moreover, A. nidulans α-L-rhamnosidase encoding genes could serve as prototypes for fungal genes coding for plant cell wall degrading enzymes regulated by a novel mechanism of CCR.

Keywords:
Aspergillus nidulans; Carbon catabolite repression; CreA-independent; Inducer exclusion; α-L-rhamnosidase; Transcriptional regulation