Catalases are ubiquitous hydrogen peroxide-detoxifying enzymes that are central to the cellular antioxidant response. Of two catalase activities detected in the fungus Aspergillus nidulans, the catA gene encodes the spore-specific catalase A (CatA). Here we characterize a second catalase gene, identified after probing a genomic library with catA, and demonstrate that it encodes catalase B. This gene, designated catB, predicts a 721-amino-acid polypeptide (CatB) showing 78% identity to an Aspergillus fumigatus catalase and 61% identity to Aspergillus niger CatR. Notably, similar levels of identity are found when comparing CatB to Escherichia coli catalase HPII (43%), A. nidulans CatA (40%), and the predicted peptide of a presumed catA homolog from A. fumigatus (38%). In contrast, the last two peptides share a 79% identity. The catalase B activity was barely detectable in asexual spores (conidia), disappeared after germination, and started to accumulate 10 h after spore inoculation, throughout growth and conidiation. The catB mRNA was absent from conidia, and its accumulation correlated with catalase activity, suggesting that catB expression is regulated at the transcription level. In contrast, the high CatA activity found in spores was lost gradually during germination and growth. In addition to its developmental regulation, CatB was induced by H2O2, heat shock, paraquat, or uric acid catabolism but not by osmotic stress. This pattern of regulation and the protective role against H2O2 offered by CatA and CatB, at different stages of the A. nidulans life cycle, suggest that catalase gene redundancy performs the function of satisfying catalase demand at the two different stages of metabolic and genetic regulation represented by growing hyphae versus spores. Alternative H2O2 detoxification pathways in A. nidulans were indicated by the fact that catA/catB double mutants were able to grow in substrates whose catabolism generates H2O2
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