Poulsen, Lars1; Andersen, Mikael Rørdam1; Lantz, Anna Eliasson4; Thykaer, Jette1
1 Department of Systems Biology, Technical University of Denmark2 Center for Microbial Biotechnology, Department of Systems Biology, Technical University of Denmark3 Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability, Technical University of Denmark4 Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Technical University of Denmark
Acid formation in Aspergillus niger is known to be subjected to tight regulation, and the acid production profiles are fine-tuned to respond to the ambient pH. Based on transcriptome data, putative trans-acting pH responding transcription factors were listed and through knock out studies, mutants exhibiting an oxalate overproducing phenotype were identified. The yield of oxalate was increased up to 158% compared to the wild type and the corresponding transcription factor was therefore entitled Oxalic Acid repression Factor, OafA. Detailed physiological characterization of one of the ΔoafA mutants, compared to the wild type, showed that both strains produced substantial amounts of gluconic acid, but the mutant strain was more efficient in re-uptake of gluconic acid and converting it to oxalic acid, particularly at high pH (pH 5.0). Transcriptional profiles showed that 241 genes were differentially expressed due to the deletion of oafA and this supported the argument of OafA being a trans-acting transcription factor. Furthermore, expression of two phosphoketolases was down-regulated in the ΔoafA mutant, one of which has not previously been described in fungi. It was argued that the observed oxalate overproducing phenotype was a consequence of the efficient re-uptake of gluconic acid and thereby a higher flux through glycolysis. This results in a lower flux through the pentose phosphate pathway, demonstrated by the down-regulation of the phosphoketolases. Finally, the physiological data, in terms of the specific oxygen consumption, indicated a connection between the oxidative phosphorylation and oxalate production and this was further substantiated through transcription analysis.