Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)—isoleucine, leucine, and valine—are synthesized by fungi. These amino acids are important components of proteins and secondary metabolites. The biochemical pathway for BCAA biosynthesis is well-characterized in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The biosynthesis of these three amino acids is interconnected. Different precursors are metabolized in multiple steps through shared enzymes to produce isoleucine and valine, and the valine biosynthesis pathway branches before the penultimate step to a series of leucine biosynthesis-specific steps to produce leucine. Recent efforts have made advances toward characterization of the BCAA biosynthesis pathway in several fungi, revealing diversity in gene duplication and functional divergence in the genes for these enzymatic steps in different fungi. The BCAA biosynthesis pathway is regulated by the transcription factor LEU3 in S. cerevisiae, and LeuB in Aspergillus nidulans and Aspergillus fumigatus, and the activity of these transcription factors is modulated by the leucine biosynthesis pathway intermediate α-isopropylmalate. Herein, we discuss recent advances in our understanding of the BCAA pathway and its regulation, focusing on filamentous ascomycete fungi and comparison with the well-established process in yeast.

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