Unveiling a classical mutant in the context of the GH3 β-glucosidase family in Neurospora crassa

Yuxin Zhang, Basant Nada, Scott E. Baker, James E. Evans, Chaoguang Tian, J. Philipp Benz, Elisabeth Tamayo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Classical fungal mutant strains obtained by mutagenesis have helped to elucidate fundamental metabolic pathways in the past. In the filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa, the gluc-1 strain was isolated long ago and characterized by its low level of β-glucosidase activity, which is essential for the degradation of cellulose, the most abundant biopolymer on Earth and the main polymeric component of the plant cell wall. Based on genomic resequencing, we hypothesized that the causative mutation resides in the β-glucosidase gene gh3-3 (bgl6, NCU08755). In this work, growth patterns, enzymatic activities and sugar utilization rates were analyzed in several mutant and overexpression strains related to gluc-1 and gh3-3. In addition, different mutants affected in the degradation and transport of cellobiose were analyzed. While overexpression of gh3-3 led to the recovery of β-glucosidase activity in the gluc-1 mutant, as well as normal utilization of cellobiose, the full gene deletion strain Δgh3-3 was found to behave differently than gluc-1 with lower secreted β-glucosidase activity, indicating a dominant role of the amino acid substitution in the point mutated gh3-3 gene of gluc-1. Our results furthermore confirm that GH3-3 is the major extracellular β-glucosidase in N. crassa and demonstrate that the two cellodextrin transporters CDT-1 and CDT-2 are essential for growth on cellobiose when the three main N. crassa β-glucosidases are absent. Overall, these findings provide valuable insight into the mechanisms of cellulose utilization in filamentous fungi, being an essential step in the efficient production of biorefinable sugars from agricultural and forestry plant biomass.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4
JournalAMB Express
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2024


  • Cellobiose utilization
  • Neurospora crassa
  • gluc-1 mutant
  • β-glucosidase


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