Halotolerant and halophilic melanized fungi were recently described in hypersaline waters. A close study of the sterol composition of such fungi, namely Hortaea werneckii, Alternaria alternata, Cladosporium sphaerospermum, Cladosporium sp., and Aureobasidium pullulans revealed the dominance of ergosterol and the presence of 29 intermediates of its biosynthesis pathway. The presence or absence of intermediates from distinct synthesis routes gave insight into the operative synthetic pathways from 4,4,14-trimethylcholesta-8,24-dien-3 beta-ol (lanosterol) to ergosterol in melanized fungi and in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a reference yeast cultured in parallel. In all studied melanized fungi, initial methylation at C-24 took place before C-14 and C-4 demethylation, involving a different reaction sequence from that observed in S. cerevisiae. Further transformation was observed to occur through various routes. In A. alternata, isomerization at C-7 takes place prior to desaturation at C-5 and C-22, and methylene reduction at C-24. In addition to these pathways in Cladosporium spp., H. werneckii, and A. pullulans, ergosterol may also be synthesized through reduction of the C-24 methylene group before desaturation at C-5 and C-22 or vice versa. Moreover, in all studied melanized fungi except A. alternata, ergosterol biosynthesis may also proceed through C-24 methylene reduction prior to C-4 demethylation. -- M�janelle, L., J. F. L�pez, N. Gunde-Cimerman, and J. O. Grimalt. Ergosterol biosynthesis in novel melanized fungi from hypersaline environments. J. Lipid Res. 2001. 42: 352--358.
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