Debate still surrounds the physiological roles of the alternative respiratory enzymes found in many fungi and plants. It has been proposed that alternative NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductases (NADH dehydrogenases) may protect against oxidative stress, conversely, elevated activity of these enzymes has been linked to senescence. Here we show that inhibition of these enzymes in a fungal protein expression system (Aspergillus niger) leads to significantly enhanced specific growth rate, substrate uptake, carbon dioxide evolution, higher protein content, and more efficient use of substrates. These findings are consistent with a protective role of the NADH dehydrogenases against oxidative stress, thus, when electron flow via these enzymes is blocked, flux through the main respiratory pathway rises, leading to enhanced ATP generation. We anticipate that our findings will stimulate further studies in fungal and plant cultures leading to significant improvements in these expression systems, and to deeper insights into the cellular roles of alternative respiration.
- adenosine triphosphate
- carbon dioxide
- NADH dehydrogenases
- quaternary ammonium compounds