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Identification of novel metabolites from Aspergillus flavus by high resolution and multiple stage mass spectrometry

Malysheva, Svetlana V., Arroyo-Manzanares, Natalia, Cary, Jeffrey W., Ehrlich, Kenneth C., Vanden Bussche, Julie, Vanhaecke, Lynn, Bhatnagar, Deepak, Di Mavungu, José Diana, De Saeger, Sarah
Food additives & contaminants 2014 v.31 no.1 pp. 111-120
Aspergillus flavus, aflatoxins, anthraquinones, computer software, fungi, gene expression regulation, mass spectrometry, metabolomics, multigene family, mutants, pigments, polyketide synthases, secondary metabolites, ultra-performance liquid chromatography
The filamentous fungus Aspergillus flavus is one of the most important species in the Aspergillus genus and is distributed worldwide as a prevalent aflatoxin-producing food and feed contaminant. A. flavus contains more than 55 gene clusters that are predicted to encode proteins involved in secondary metabolite production. One of these, cluster 27, contains a polyketide synthase (pks 27) gene that encodes a protein that is highly homologous to the aflatoxin cluster PKS. Comparative metabolomics, using ultra-high performance liquid chromatography (UHPLC) coupled to high resolution Orbitrap mass spectrometry (MS) was used to detect metabolites differentially expressed in the A. flav us wild-type and ∆pks 27 mutant strains. Metabolite profiling was aided by a statistical differential analysis of MS data using SIEVE software. This differential analysis combined with accurate mass data from the Orbitrap and ion trap multiple stage MS allowed four metabolites to be identified that were produced only by the wild-type culture. These included asparasone A (358 Da), an anthraquinone pigment, and related anthraquinones with masses of 316, 340 and 374 Da. These latter three compounds had similar fragmentation patterns to that of asparasone A. The 316 Da anthraquinone is particularly interesting because it is most likely formed by incorporation of seven malonyl-CoA units rather than the eight units required for the formation of asparasone A. The 340 and 374 Da metabolites are the dehydration and an oxy-derivative of asparasone A, respectively. Asparasone A was also identified in extracts from several other Aspergillus species.