Research – Inhibition of Aflatoxin Production by Citrinin and Non-Enzymatic Formation of a Novel Citrinin-Kojic Acid Adduct



Screening for microorganisms that inhibit aflatoxin production from environments showed that Penicillium citrinum inhibited aflatoxin production by Aspergillus parasiticus. The inhibitory substance in the culture medium of P. citrinum was confirmed to be citrinin (CTN). RT-PCR analyses showed that CTN did not inhibit expressions of aflatoxin biosynthetic genes (aflRpksL1, and fas-1) of A. parasiticus, whereas feeding experiments using A. parasiticus showed that CTN inhibited the in vivo conversion of dihydrosterigmatocystin to AFB2·AFG2. These results suggest that CTN inhibits a certain post-transcriptional step in aflatoxin biosynthesis. CTN in the culture medium of A. parasiticus was found to be decreased or lost with time, suggesting that a certain metabolite produced by A. parasiticus is the cause of the CTN decrease; we then purified, characterized, and then analyzed the substance. Physico-chemical analyses confirmed that the metabolite causing a decrease in CTN fluorescence was kojic acid (KA) and the resulting product was identified as a novel substance: (1R,3S,4R)-3,4-dihydro-6,8-dihydroxy-1-(3-hydroxy-6-(hydroxymethyl)-4-oxo-4H-pyran-2-yl)-3,4,5-trimethyl-1H-isochromene-7-carboxylic acid, which was named “CTN-KA adduct”. Our examination of the metabolites’ toxicities revealed that unlike CTN, the CTN-KA adduct did not inhibit aflatoxin production by A. parasiticus. These results indicate that CTN’s toxicity was alleviated with KA by converting CTN to the CTN-KA adduct.

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