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A Corn Trypsin Inhibitor with Antifungal Activity Inhibits Aspergillus flavus α-Amylase

October 1999 , Volume 89 , Number  10
Pages  902 - 907

Z.-Y. Chen , R. L. Brown , J. S. Russin , A. R. Lax , and T. E. Cleveland

First and third authors: Department of Plant Pathology and Crop Physiology, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, Baton Rouge 70803; and second, fourth, and fifth authors: Southern Regional Research Center, USDA-ARS, New Orleans, LA 70179

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Accepted for publication 29 June 1999.

In this study, we found that the inhibition of fungal growth in potato dextrose broth (PDB) medium by the 14-kDa corn trypsin inhibitor (TI) protein, previously found to be associated with host resistance to aflatoxin production and active against various fungi, was relieved when exogenous α-amylase was added along with TI. No inhibitory effect of TI on fungal growth was observed when Aspergillus flavus was grown on a medium containing either 5% glucose or 1% gelatin as a carbon source. Further investigation found that TI not only inhibited fungal production of extracellular α-amylase when A. flavus was grown in PDB medium containing TI at 100 μg ml-1 but also reduced the enzymatic activity of A. flavus α-amylase by 27%. At a higher concentration, however, TI stimulated the production of α-amylase. The effect of TI on the production of amyloglucosidase, another enzyme involved in starch metabolism by the fungus, was quite different. It stimulated the production of this enzyme during the first 10 h at all concentrations studied. These studies suggest that the resistance of certain corn genotypes to A. flavus infection may be partially due to the ability of TI to reduce the production of extracellular fungal α-amylase and its activity, thereby limiting the availability of simple sugars for fungal growth. However, further investigation of the relationship between TI levels and fungal α-amylase expression in vivo is needed.

Additional keywords: antifungal protein, maize.

The American Phytopathological Society, 1999