Recent advances in genome mining of secondary metabolite biosynthetic gene clusters and the development of heterologous expression systems in Aspergillus nidulans

  • Junko Yaegashi
  • Berl R. Oakley
  • Clay C. C. Wang


Fungi are prolific producers of secondary metabolites (SMs) that show a variety of biological activities. Recent advances in genome sequencing have shown that fungal genomes harbor far more SM gene clusters than are expressed under conventional laboratory conditions. Activation of these “silent” gene clusters is a major challenge, and many approaches have been taken to attempt to activate them and, thus, unlock the vast treasure chest of fungal SMs. This review will cover recent advances in genome mining of SMs in Aspergillus nidulans. We will also discuss current updates in gene annotation of A. nidulans and recent developments in A. nidulans as a molecular genetic system, both of which are essential for rapid and efficient experimental verification of SM gene clusters on a genome-wide scale. Finally, we will describe advances in the use of A. nidulans as a heterologous expression system to aid in the analysis of SM gene clusters from other fungal species that do not have an established molecular genetic system.


Aspergillus Secondary metabolite Polyketide synthase Nonribosomal peptide synthetase Gene cluster 



C.C.C.W and B.R.O gratefully acknowledge the National Institutes of Health (GM084077) for supporting research on Aspergillus nidulans secondary metabolism. We also thank Elizabeth Oakley and Dr. James Sanchez for their editorial assistance.


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Copyright information

© Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Junko Yaegashi
    • 1
  • Berl R. Oakley
    • 2
  • Clay C. C. Wang
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences, John Stauffer Pharmaceutical Sciences Center, School of PharmacyUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Department of Molecular BiosciencesUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA
  3. 3.Department of Chemistry Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and SciencesUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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