The spatial organization of sphingofungin biosynthesis in Aspergillus fumigatus and its cross-interaction with sphingolipid metabolism.

Jojić K*, Gherlone F*, Cseresnyés Z, Bissell AU, Hoefgen S, Hoffmann S, Huang Y, Janevska S, Figge MT, Valiante V


Sphingofungins are sphinganine analog mycotoxins acting as inhibitors of serine palmitoyl transferases, enzymes responsible for the first step in the sphingolipid biosynthesis. Eukaryotic cells are highly organized with various structures and organelles to facilitate cellular processes and chemical reactions, including the ones occurring as part of the secondary metabolism. We studied how sphingofungin biosynthesis is compartmentalized in the human-pathogenic fungus Aspergillus fumigatus, and we observed that it takes place in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), ER-derived vesicles, and the cytosol. This implies that sphingofungin and sphingolipid biosynthesis colocalize to some extent. Automated analysis of confocal microscopy images confirmed the colocalization of the fluorescent proteins. Moreover, we demonstrated that the cluster-associated aminotransferase (SphA) and 3-ketoreductase (SphF) play a bifunctional role, supporting sphingolipid biosynthesis, and thereby antagonizing the toxic effects caused by sphingofungin production.

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