Elucidation of Functional Markers from Aspergillus nidulans Developmental Regulator FlbB and Their Phylogenetic Distribution
Cortese, Marc S.
García Aguirrezabala, Aitor
Espeso, Eduardo A.
Ugalde Martínez, Unai
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PLoS ONE 6(3) : (2011) // e17505
Aspergillus nidulans is a filamentous fungus widely used as a model for biotechnological and clinical research. It is also used as a platform for the study of basic eukaryotic developmental processes. Previous studies identified and partially characterized a set of proteins controlling cellular transformations in this ascomycete. Among these proteins, the bZip type transcription factor FlbB is a key regulator of reproduction, stress responses and cell-death. Our aim here was the prediction, through various bioinformatic methods, of key functional residues and motifs within FlbB in order to inform the design of future laboratory experiments and further the understanding of the molecular mechanisms that control fungal development. A dataset of FlbB orthologs and those of its key interaction partner FlbE was assembled from 40 members of the Pezizomycotina. Unique features were identified in each of the three structural domains of FlbB. The N-terminal region encoded a bZip transcription factor domain with a novel histidine-containing DNA binding motif while the dimerization determinants exhibited two distinct profiles that segregated by class. The C-terminal region of FlbB showed high similarity with the AP-1 family of stress response regulators but with variable patterns of conserved cysteines that segregated by class and order. Motif conservation analysis revealed that nine FlbB orthologs belonging to the Eurotiales order contained a motif in the central region that could mediate interaction with FlbE. The key residues and motifs identified here provide a basis for the design of follow-up experimental investigations. Additionally, the presence or absence of these residues and motifs among the FlbB orthologs could help explain the differences in the developmental programs among fungal species as well as define putative complementation groups that could serve to extend known functional characterizations to other species.