NmeA, a novel efflux transporter specific for nucleobases and nucleosides, contributes to metal resistance in Aspergillus nidulans.


Balaska S, Myrianthopoulos V, Tselika M, Hatzinikolaou DG, Mikros E, Diallinas G.
Mol Microbiol. 2017 May 16.


Through Minos transposon mutagenesis we obtained A. nidulans mutants resistant to 5-fluorouracil due to insertions into the upstream region of the uncharacterized gene nmeA, encoding a Major Facilitator Superfamily (MFS) transporter. Minos transpositions increased nmeA transcription, which is otherwise extremely low under all conditions tested. To dissect the function of NmeA we used strains overexpressing or genetically lacking the nmeA gene. Strains overexpressing NmeA are resistant to toxic purine analogues, but also, to cadmium, zinc and borate, whereas an isogenic nmeAΔ null mutant exhibits increased sensitivity to these compounds. We provide direct evidence that nmeA overexpression leads to efflux of adenine, xanthine, uric acid and allantoin, the latter two being intermediate metabolites of purine catabolism that are toxic when accumulated cytoplasmically due to relevant genetic lesions. By using a functional GFP-tagged version we show that NmeA is a plasma membrane transporter. Homology modeling and docking approaches identified a single purine binding site and a tentative substrate translocation trajectory in NmeA. Orthologues of NmeA are present in all Aspergilli and other Eurotiomycetes, but are absent from other fungi or non-fungal organisms. NmeA is thus the founding member of a new class of transporters essential for fungal success under specific toxic conditions.