( 2006 )
Comparison of the aflR gene sequences of strains in Aspergillus section Flavi.
PMID : 16385126 : DOI : 10.1099/mic.0.27618-0
Aflatoxins are polyketide-derived secondary metabolites produced by Aspergillus parasiticus, Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus nomius and a few other species. The toxic effects of aflatoxins have adverse consequences for human health and agricultural economics. The aflR gene, a regulatory gene for aflatoxin biosynthesis, encodes a protein containing a zinc-finger DNA-binding motif. Although Aspergillus oryzae and Aspergillus sojae, which are used in fermented foods and in ingredient manufacture, have no record of producing aflatoxin, they have been shown to possess an aflR gene. This study examined 34 strains of Aspergillus section Flavi. The aflR gene of 23 of these strains was successfully amplified and sequenced. No aflR PCR products were found in five A. sojae strains or six strains of A. oryzae. These PCR results suggested that the aflR gene is absent or significantly different in some A. sojae and A. oryzae strains. The sequenced aflR genes from the 23 positive strains had greater than 96.6 % similarity, which was particularly conserved in the zinc-finger DNA-binding domain. The aflR gene of A. sojae has two obvious characteristics: an extra CTCATG sequence fragment and a C to T transition that causes premature termination of AFLR protein synthesis. Differences between A. parasiticus/A. sojae and A. flavus/A. oryzae aflR genes were also identified. Some strains of A. flavus as well as A. flavus var. viridis, A. oryzae var. viridis and A. oryzae var. effuses have an A. oryzae-type aflR gene. For all strains with the A. oryzae-type aflR gene, there was no evidence of aflatoxin production. It is suggested that for safety reasons, the aflR gene could be examined to assess possible aflatoxin production by Aspergillus section Flavi strains.