Zinc concentrations strongly influence aflatoxin accumulation in laboratory media and in food and feed crops. The presence of zinc stimulates aflatoxin production, and the absence of zinc impedes toxin production. Initial studies that suggested a link between zinc and aflatoxin biosynthesis were presented in the 1970s. In the present study, we utilized two zinc chelators, N,N,Nʹ,Nʹ-tetrakis (2-pyridylmethyl) ethane-1,2-diamine (TPEN) and 2,3-dimercapto-1-propanesulfonic acid (DMPS) to explore the effect of zinc limitation on aflatoxin synthesis in Aspergillus parasiticus. TPEN but not DMPS decreased aflatoxin biosynthesis up to six-fold depending on whether A. parasiticus was grown on rich or minimal medium. Although we observed significant inhibition of aflatoxin production by TPEN, no detectable changes were observed in expression levels of the aflatoxin pathway gene ver-1 and the zinc binuclear cluster transcription factor, AflR. Treatment of growing A. parasiticus solid culture with a fluorescent zinc probe demonstrated an increase in intracellular zinc levels assessed by increases in fluorescent intensity of cultures treated with TPEN compared to controls. These data suggest that TPEN binds to cytoplasmic zinc therefore limiting fungal access to zinc. To investigate the efficacy of TPEN on food and feed crops, we found that TPEN effectively decreases aflatoxin accumulation on peanut medium but not in a sunflower seeds-derived medium. From an application perspective, these data provide the basis for biological differences that exist in the efficacy of different zinc chelators in various food and feed crops frequently contaminated by aflatoxin.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis