Yeast-Like Cell Formation and Glutathione Metabolism in Autolysing Cultures of Penicillium chrysogenum


The bulk formation of yeast-like (arthrospore-like) cells were typical in carbon-depleted submerged cultures of the high β-lactam producer Penicillium chrysogenum NCAIM 00237 strain independently of the nitrogen-content of the culture medium. This morphogenetic switch was still quite common in carbon-starving cultures of the low-penicillin-producer strain P. chrysogenum ATCC 28089 (Wis 54-1255) when the nitrogen-content of the medium was low but was a very rare event in wild-type P. chrysogenum cultures. The mycelium→yeast-like cell transition correlated well with a relatively high glutathione concentration and a reductive glutathione/glutathione disulfite (GSH/GSSG) redox balance in autolysing cultures, which was a consequence of industrial strain development. Paradoxically, the development of high β-lactam productivity resulted in a high intracellular GSH level and, concomitantly, in an increased γ-glutamyltranspeptidase (i.e. GSH-decomposing) activity in the autolytic phase of growth of P. chrysogenum NCAIM 00237. The hypothesized causal connection between GSH metabolism and cell morphology, if verified, may help us in future metabolic engineering of industrially important filamentous fungi.


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The Hungarian Ministry of Education awarded a Széchenyi István Scholarship to I.P., and T.E. was a grantee of the Bolyai János Scholarship. This project was supported financially by the Office for Higher Education Programmes (grant 0092/2001) and by the OTKA (grants T034315 and T037473).

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Pócsi, I., Molnár, Z., Pusztahelyi, T. et al. Yeast-Like Cell Formation and Glutathione Metabolism in Autolysing Cultures of Penicillium chrysogenum. BIOLOGIA FUTURA 58, 431–440 (2007).

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  • Penicillium chrysogenum
  • glutathione status
  • morphology
  • yeast-like cells
  • arthrospores
  • cell death
  • fragmentation
  • Acremonium chrysogenum