Characterization of the putative 14-3-3 protein, artA, in Aspergillus flavus
Ibarra, Beatriz A.
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The Aspergillus genus includes species which cause beneficial effects, while others are detrimental, among them, the opportunistic plant and animal pathogen Aspergillus flavus. A. flavus is a known producer of mutagenic and carcinogenic mycotoxins denominated Aflatoxins (AF). Aflatoxin contamination on agriculturally important crops such as maize, peanut, sorghum and tree nuts leads to numerous health issues and economic losses worldwide. We have identified a 14-3-3 homologous gene in A. flavus, artA. In this study we show that artA regulates morphological development and secondary metabolism. The artA deletion mutant presented a decrease in vegetative growth and an increase in conidial production. Normal levels of artA are also required for sclerotial development. Over-expression of artA resulted in a decrease in sclerotial production and in a delay in maturation of these resistant structures. Importantly, artA has a role in AF production. Both deletion and over-expression of artA result in an increase of AF, particularly in the absence of this regulator. Furthermore, artA also affects the production of an unknown fungal secondary metabolite.