Regulation of cellulase gene expression in the filamentous fungus Trichoderma reesei

Marja Ilmén, Anu Saloheimo, Maija Leena Onnela, Merja E. Penttilä

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    Basic features of regulation of expression of the genes encoding the cellulases of the filamentous fungus Trichoderma reesei QM9414, the genes cbh1 and cbh2 encoding cellobiohydrolases and the genes egl1, egl2 and egl5 encoding endoglucanases, were studied at the mRNA level. The cellulase genes were coordinately expressed under all conditions studied, with the steady- state mRNA levels of cbh1 being the highest. Solka floc cellulose and the disaccharide sophorose induced expression to almost the same level. Moderate expression was observed when cellobiose or lactose was used as the carbon source. It was found that glycerol and sorbitol do not promote expression but, unlike glucose, do not inhibit it either, because the addition of 1 to 2 mM sophorose to glycerol or sorbitol cultures provokes high cellulase expression levels. These carbon sources thus provide a useful means to study cellulase regulation without significantly affecting the growth of the fungus. RNA slot blot experiments showed that no expression could be observed on glucose-containing medium and that high glucose levels abolish the inducing effect of sophorose. The results clearly show that distinct and clear-cut mechanisms of induction and glucose repression regulate cellulase expression in an actively growing fungus. However, derepression of cellulase expression occurs without apparent addition of an inducer once glucose has been depleted from the medium. This expression seems not to arise simply from starvation, since the lack of carbon or nitrogen as such is not sufficient to trigger significant expression.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1298-1306
    Number of pages9
    JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1997
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • Cellulase
    • cellulose
    • disaccharide
    • fungi
    • Hypocrea jecorina
    • Trichoderma
    • glucan synthase
    • glucose
    • Glycerol
    • lactose


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