Restoration of camptothecine production in attenuated endophytic fungus on re-inoculation into host plant and treatment with DNA methyltransferase inhibitor
Fungal endophytes inhabit living tissues of plants without any apparent symptoms and in many cases are known to produce secondary metabolites similar to those produced by their respective host plants. However on sub-culture, the endophytic fungi gradually attenuate their ability to produce the metabolites. Attenuation has been a major constraint in realizing the potential of endophytic fungi as an alternative source of plant secondary metabolites. In this study, we report attempts to restore camptothecine (CPT) production in attenuated endophytic fungi isolated from CPT producing plants, Nothapodytes nimmoniana and Miquelia dentata when they are passed through their host plant or plants that produce CPT and when treated with a DNA methyl transferase inhibitor. Attenuated endophytic fungi that traversed through their host tissue or plants capable of synthesizing CPT, produced significantly higher CPT compared to the attenuated fungi. Attenuated fungus cultured in the presence of 5-azacytidine, a DNA methyltransferase inhibitor, had an enhanced CPT content compared to untreated attenuated fungus. These results indicate that the attenuation of CPT production in endophytic fungi could in principle be reversed by eliciting some signals from plant tissue, most likely that which prevents the methylation or silencing of the genes responsible for CPT biosynthesis.