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Loss of CclA, required for histone 3 lysine 4 methylation, decreases growth but increases secondary metabolite production in Aspergillus fumigatus

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Author(s): Jonathan M. Palmer | Jin Woo Bok | Seul Lee | Taylor R.T. Dagenais | David R. Andes | Dimitrios P. Kontoyiannis | Nancy P. Keller

Journal: PeerJ
ISSN 2167-8359

Volume: 1;
Start page: e4;
Date: 2013;
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Keywords: COMPASS complex | Gliotoxin | Histone methylation | Secondary metabolism | Growth and development | 6-azauracil sensitivity | Aspergillus fumigatus

ABSTRACT
Secondary metabolite (SM) production in filamentous fungi is mechanistically associated with chromatin remodeling of specific SM clusters. One locus recently shown to be involved in SM suppression in Aspergillus nidulans was CclA, a member of the histone 3 lysine 4 methylating COMPASS complex. Here we examine loss of CclA and a putative H3K4 demethylase, HdmA, in the human pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus. Although deletion of hdmA showed no phenotype under the conditions tested, the cclA deletant was deficient in tri- and di-methylation of H3K4 and yielded a slowly growing strain that was rich in the production of several SMs, including gliotoxin. Similar to deletion of other chromatin modifying enzymes, ΔcclA was sensitive to 6-azauracil indicating a defect in transcriptional elongation. Despite the poor growth, the ΔcclA mutant had wild-type pathogenicity in a murine model and the Toll-deficient Drosophila model of invasive aspergillosis. These data indicate that tri- and di-methylation of H3K4 is involved in the regulation of several secondary metabolites in A. fumigatus, however does not contribute to pathogenicity under the conditions tested.

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