Iron is an essential trace element for almost all organisms. However, an excess of this metal within cells can be deleterious on account of catalysis of cell-damaging hydroxyl radicals. Therefore, the concentration of iron within cells is tightly regulated and the primary control occurs by regulating its uptake. Under conditions of low iron availability, most fungi mobilize extracellular iron by excretion of low-molecular-mass ferric iron chelators, termed siderophores. Due to the potential impact of iron metabolism on fungal pathogenicity, a better insight into siderophore-mediated iron uptake is needed. In Aspergillus nidulans, siderophore biosynthesis and uptake are negatively regulated by the GATA-type transcription factor SREA. Hence, genes involved in siderophore biosynthesis and uptake are characterized by transcriptional induction under iron limitation in wild-type strain and de-repression in an sreA-deletion strain under conditions of sufficient iron supply. Such genes have been searched for using different strategies, e.g. differential mRNA display and expression analysis of candidate genes from various A. nidulans sequence databases. The identified genes presumably encode enzymes needed for siderophore biosynthesis, and transporters involved in siderophore uptake and/or excretion. The functional characterization of these genes will help to unravel the pathways involved in siderophore biosynthesis and uptake.

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