Subcellular Compartmentalization and Trafficking of the Biosynthetic Machinery for Fungal Melanin

Srijana Upadhyay, Xinping Xu, David Lowry, Jennifer C. Jackson, Robert Roberson, Xiaorong Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Protection by melanin depends on its subcellular location. Although most filamentous fungi synthesize melanin via a polyketide synthase pathway, where and how melanin biosynthesis occurs and how it is deposited as extracellular granules remain elusive. Using a forward genetic screen in the pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus, we find that mutations in an endosomal sorting nexin abolish melanin cell-wall deposition. We find that all enzymes involved in the early steps of melanin biosynthesis are recruited to endosomes through a non-conventional secretory pathway. In contrast, late melanin enzymes accumulate in the cell wall. Such subcellular compartmentalization of the melanin biosynthetic machinery occurs in both A. fumigatus and A. nidulans. Thus, fungal melanin biosynthesis appears to be initiated in endosomes with exocytosis leading to melanin extracellular deposition, much like the synthesis and trafficking of mammalian melanin in endosomally derived melanosomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2511-2518
Number of pages8
JournalCell Reports
Issue number11
StatePublished - Mar 22 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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