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Open Access Research article

Transcription of the three HMG-CoA reductase genes of Mucor circinelloides

Gábor Nagy, Anita Farkas, Árpád Csernetics, Ottó Bencsik, András Szekeres, Ildikó Nyilasi, Csaba Vágvölgyi and Tamás Papp*

Author Affiliations

Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Science and Informatics, University of Szeged, Közép fasor 52, Szeged, H-6726, Hungary

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BMC Microbiology 2014, 14:93  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-14-93

Published: 14 April 2014



Precursors of sterols, carotenoids, the prenyl groups of several proteins and other terpenoid compounds are synthesised via the acetate-mevalonate pathway. One of the key enzyme of this pathway is the 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA (HMG-CoA) reductase, which catalyses the conversion of HMG-CoA to mevalonate. HMG-CoA reductase therefore affects many biological processes, such as morphogenesis, synthesis of different metabolites or adaptation to environmental changes. In this study, transcription of the three HMG-CoA reductase genes (designated as hmgR1, hmgR2 and hmgR3) of the β-carotene producing Mucor circinelloides has been analysed under various culturing conditions; effect of the elevation of their copy number on the carotenoid and ergosterol content as well as on the sensitivity to statins has also been examined.


Transcripts of each gene were detected and their relative levels varied under the tested conditions. Transcripts of hmgR1 were detected only in the mycelium and its relative transcript level seems to be strongly controlled by the temperature and the oxygen level of the environment. Transcripts of hmgR2 and hmgR3 are already present in the germinating spores and the latter is also strongly regulated by oxygen. Overexpression of hmgR2 and hmgR3 by elevating their copy numbers increased the carotenoid content of the fungus and decreased their sensitivity to statins.


The three HMG-CoA reductase genes of M. circinelloides displayed different relative transcript levels under the tested conditions suggesting differences in their regulation. They seem to be especially involved in the adaptation to the changing oxygen tension and osmotic conditions of the environment as well as to statin treatment. Overexpression of hmgR2 and hmgR3 may be used to improve the carotenoid content.

Terpene biosynthesis; Transcription; Ergosterol; Carotenoid; Dimorphism; Mucorales