Aflatoxins belong to a family of decaketides that are produced as secondary metabolites by Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus. The aflatoxin biosynthetic pathway involves several enzymatic steps that appear to be regulated by the afl2 gene in A. flavus and the apa2 gene in A. parasiticus. Several lines of evidence indicate that these two genes are homologous. The DNA sequences of the two genes are highly similar, they both are involved in the regulation of aflatoxin biosynthesis, and apa2 can complement the afl2 mutation in A. flavus. Because of these similarities, we propose that these two genes are homologs, and because of the ability of these genes to regulate aflatoxin biosynthesis, we suggest that they be designated aflR. We report here the further characterization of aflR from A. flavus and show that aflR codes for a 2,078-bp transcript with an open reading frame of 1,311 nucleotides that codes for 437 amino acids and a putative protein of 46,679 daltons. Analysis of the predicted amino acid sequence indicated that the polypeptide contains a zinc cluster motif between amino acid positions 29 and 56. This region contains the consensus sequence Cys-Xaa2-Cys-Xaa6-Cys-Xaa6-Cys-Xaa2-Cys-Xaa6+ ++-Cys. This motif has been found in several fungal transcriptional regulatory proteins. DNA hybridization of the aflR gene with genomic digests of seven polyketide-producing fungi revealed similar sequences in three other species related to A. flavus: A. parasiticus, A. oryzae, and A. sojae. Finally, we present evidence for an antisense transcript (aflRas) derived from the opposite strand of aflR, suggesting that the aflR locus involves some form of antisense regulation
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