The Magnetic Receptor of Monascus ruber M7: Gene Clone and Its Heterologous Expression in Escherichia coli


Front. Microbiol., 19 June 2020

It is well known that many organisms can perceive the magnetic field (MF), including the geomagnetic field, but how to feel MF is unclear.

Recently, a study has claimed that a biological compass, namely a complex of the magnetic receptor (MagR) and blue light (BL) receptor (cryptochrome), has been found in Homo sapiensDrosophila melanogaster, and Danaus plexippus, which may bring some new ideas to explore the mechanism of biomagnetism. Monascus spp. are edible filamentous fungi that can produce abundant beneficial secondary metabolites and have been used to produce food colorants for nearly 2000 years in the world, especially in China, Japan, and Korea.

In this work, we firstly treated M. ruber M7 by BL (500 lux,465–467 nm), MF (5, 10, 30 mT), and the combination of MF and BL (MF-BL), respectively. The results revealed that, compared with the control (CK, neither BL nor MF), the MF alone had no effect on the growth and morphological characteristics of M7, but BL made the colonial diameters only 66.7% of CK’s and inhibited the formation of cleistothecia. Under MF-BL, the colony diameters were still 66.7% of CK’s, but the colonial growth and cleistothecia production inhibited by BL were partially restored. Then, we have found that the magR gene widely exists in the genomes of animals, plants, and microorganisms, and we have also discovered a magR gene in the M7 genome, hereinafter referred to mr-magR. Finally, the full-length cDNA of mr-magR was successfully cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli BL21 (DE3), and the Mr-MagR protein was purified by a Ni+-NTA column and identified by Western blot.

These results have laid a foundation for further investigation on the relationship between Mr-MagR and BL receptor(s) that might exist in M7. According to a literature search, it is the first time to report magR in filamentous fungi.

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