SUMMARY: Expression of the Aspergillus nidulans brlA gene plays a fundamental role in the switch from vegetative growth to asexual reproduction. Using a media-shifting protocol to induce submerged sporulation and brlA-lacZ as an expression marker, it was shown that carbon and nitrogen starvation stress induced brlA transcription to different degrees. Glucose starvation induced brlA rapidly to high levels and resulted in spore formation on reduced conidiophores, whereas nitrogen starvation induced brlA gradually to lower levels and sporulation occurred to a lesser extent but from more complex conidiophores. β-Galactosidase activity paralleled brlAα and brlAβ mRNA. No clear qualitative differences between the two brlA transcripts were found in these starvation conditions, suggesting that the different patterns of sporulation could be explained by quantitative expression differences. Since brlA mRNA did not accumulate in the presence of a high glucose concentration, we investigated the role of other carbon sources on brlA expression. Non-repressing carbon sources such as glycerol, acetate and arabinose were as effective as glucose in preventing brlA mRNA accumulation, suggesting that the glucose effects on brlA expression could be explained as a response to nutrient starvation, rather than by carbon catabolite repression. Despite similar low levels of brlA transcripts being detected during growth in glucose or non-repressing carbon sources, conidiophores were formed only in medium containing glycerol, acetate or arabinose. When mycelia were not shifted to starvation conditions, sporulation was not observed in standard minimal medium even after glucose was exhausted, unless the medium was buffered. This and other results suggest that strong deviation from external neutral pH partially prevented full induction and/or function of brlA.


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