Aspergillus nidulans contains two functionally distinct fatty acid synthases (FASs): one required for primary fatty acid metabolism (FAS) and the other required for secondary metabolism (sFAS). FAS mutants require long-chain fatty acids for growth, whereas sFAS mutants grow normally but cannot synthesize sterigmatocystin (ST), a carcinogenic secondary metabolite structurally and biosynthetically related to aflatoxin. sFAS mutants regain the ability to synthesize ST when provided with hexanoic acid, supporting the model that the ST polyketide synthase uses this short-chain fatty acid as a starter unit. The characterization of both the polyketide synthase and FAS may provide novel means for modifying secondary metabolites.
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