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Global gene expression analysis of Aspergillus nidulans reveals metabolic shift and transcription suppression under hypoxia


Hypoxia imposes a challenge upon most filamentous fungi that require oxygen for proliferation. Here, we used whole genome DNA microarrays to investigate global transcriptional changes in Aspergillus nidulans gene expression after exposure to hypoxia followed by normoxia. Aeration affected the expression of 2,864 genes (27% of the total number of genes in the fungus), of which 50% were either induced or repressed under hypoxic conditions. Up-regulated genes included those for glycolysis, ethanol production, the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, and for the γ-aminobutyrate (GABA) shunt that bypasses two steps of the TCA cycle. Ethanol and lactate production under hypoxic conditions indicated that glucose was fermented to these compounds via the glycolytic pathway. Since the GABA shunt bypasses the NADH-generating reaction of the TCA cycle catalyzed by oxoglutarate dehydrogenase, hypoxic A. nidulans cells eliminated excess NADH. Hypoxia down-regulated some genes involved in transcription initiation by RNA polymerase II, and lowered the cellular mRNA content. These functions were resumed by re-oxygenation, indicating that A. nidulans controls global transcription to adapt to a hypoxic environment. This study is the first to show that hypoxia elicits systematic transcriptional responses in A. nidulans.

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Glutamate dehydrogenase


2-Oxoglutarate dehydrogenase


Tricarboxylic acid


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We thank Norma Foster for critical reading of the manuscript. This study was partly supported by the Bio-oriented Technology Research Advancement Institution, and a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research from Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Japan.

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Correspondence to Naoki Takaya.

Additional information

S. Masuo and Y. Terabayashi equally contributed to this study.

Communicated by J. Perez-Martin.

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Masuo, S., Terabayashi, Y., Shimizu, M. et al. Global gene expression analysis of Aspergillus nidulans reveals metabolic shift and transcription suppression under hypoxia. Mol Genet Genomics 284, 415–424 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00438-010-0576-x

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  • Fungus
  • Fermentation
  • Environmental stress
  • Glutamate dehydrogenase
  • Respiration