A novel cyclic peptide compound, KK-1, was originally isolated from the plant-pathogenic fungus Curvularia clavata. It consists of 10 amino acid residues, including five N-methylated amino acid residues, and has potent antifungal activity. Recently, the genome-sequencing analysis of C. clavata was completed, and the biosynthetic genes involved in KK-1 production were predicted by using a novel gene cluster mining tool, MIDDAS-M. These genes form an approximately 75-kb cluster, which includes nine open reading frames, containing a non-ribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS) gene. To determine whether the predicted genes were responsible for the biosynthesis of KK-1, we performed heterologous production of KK-1 in Aspergillus oryzae by introduction of the cluster genes into the genome of A. oryzae. The NRPS gene was split in two fragments and then reconstructed in the A. oryzae genome, because the gene was quite large (approximately 40 kb). The remaining seven genes in the cluster, excluding the regulatory gene kkR, were simultaneously introduced into the strain of A. oryzae in which NRPS had already been incorporated. To evaluate the heterologous production of KK-1 in A. oryzae, gene expression was analyzed by RT-PCR and KK-1 productivity was quantified by HPLC. KK-1 was produced in variable quantities by a number of transformed strains, along with expression of the cluster genes. The amount of KK-1 produced by the strain with the greatest expression of all genes was lower than that produced by the original producer, C. clavata. Therefore, expression of the cluster genes is necessary and sufficient for the heterologous production of KK-1 in A. oryzae, although there may be unknown factors limiting productivity in this species.
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