2018 - Thymol Induces Conidial Apoptosis in Aspergillus flavus via Stimulating K+ Eruption
Port-a-Patch publication in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (2018)
Hu L.-B., Ban F.-F., Li H.-B., Qian P.-P., Shen Q.-S., Yan-Zhao Y., Mo H.-Z., Zhou X.
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (2018) 66(32):8530-8536
Aspergillus flavus is a notorious foodborne fungus, posing a significant risk to humans in the form of hepatocellular carcinoma or aspergillosis. Thymol, as a food preservative, could efficiently kill conidia of A. flavus. However, the underlying mechanisms by which thymol kills A. flavus are not completely understood. With specific fluorescent dyes, we detected several apoptotic hallmarks, including chromatin condensation, phosphatidylserine externalization, DNA damage, mitochondrial depolarization, and caspase 9 activation in conidia exposed to 200 μg/mL of thymol, indicating that thymol induced a caspase-dependent conidial apoptosis in A. flavus. Chemical–protein interactome (CPI) and autodock analyses showed that KCNAB, homologue to the β-subunit of the voltage-gated potassium channel (Kv) and aldo-keto reductase, was the potential target of thymol. Following studies demonstrated that thymol could activate the aldo-keto reductase activity of KCNAB in vitro and stimulate a transient K+ efflux in conidia, as determined using a Port-a-Patch. Blocking K+ eruption by 4-aminopyridine (a universal inhibitor of Kv) could significantly alleviate thymol-mediated conidial apoptosis, indicating that activation of Kv was responsible for the apoptosis. Taken together, our results revealed a K+ efflux-mediated apoptotic pathway in A. flavus, which greatly contributed to the development of an alternative strategy to control this pathogen.