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K-State Today

April 3, 2019

Richard Todd presents Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics Seminar today

Submitted by Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics

Richard Todd, associate professor of plant pathology at Kansas State University, will present "Transcriptional balancing of fungal metabolism: Two modes of action for one transcription factor" as part of the Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics Seminar series at 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 3, in 120 Ackert Hall.

Todd earned his doctorate in genetics from the University of Melbourne with Professor Michael Hynes and Associate Professor Meryl Davis in 1998. His postdoctoral research, in various aspects of fungal genetics and molecular biology, was carried out in the Biotechnology Laboratory and department of botany at the University of British Columbia with Professor Louise Glass, in the department of genetics at the University of Adelaide with Dr. Joan Kelly, and at the University of Melbourne with Associate Professor Alex Andrianopoulos and Professor Michael Hynes. Todd began his career as a faculty member in 2003 as a lecturer in the department of genetics at the University of Melbourne before joining the plant pathology department at K-State as an assistant professor. His research specialization is in molecular genetics, genomics and cell biology of nitrogen utilization and metabolic gene regulation in the fungus Aspergillus nidulans.

Fungi are metabolically versatile, capable of breaking down a wide array of nutrients to produce metabolic precursors for biosynthesis and growth. The genes encoding transporters for nutrient uptake and enzymes for metabolism are controlled by wide-domain transcription factors that respond to nutrient availability as well as pathway-specific transcription factors that activate expression of genes involved in specific metabolic pathways. Nitrogen nutrient utilization genes are regulated by the conserved GATA transcription factor AreA. The activity of AreA is modulated by multiple controls including interaction with the coactivator TamA, which contains a zinc binuclear cluster DNA-binding domain, the most prevalent DNA binding domain in Ascomycete transcription factors. However, the DNA binding domain of TamA was thought to be dispensable for function. We have shown that TamA has two modes of action, acting as a non-DNA-binding coactivator at some promoters and as a DNA binding transcription factor in the promoter of a key nitrogen assimilation gene. We have used RNA-seq to dissect the functional roles of these two modes of action, revealing distinct TamA-regulated networks and a role in transcriptional balancing of metabolism.