With the goal of the genetic characterization of the D-xylose pathway in Hypocrea jecorina (anamorph: Trichoderma reesei), we cloned the xdh1 gene, encoding NAD-xylitol dehydrogenase, which catalyzes the second step of fungal D-xylose catabolism. This gene encodes a 363-amino-acid protein which has a mass of 38 kDa, belongs to the zinc-containing alcohol dehydrogenase family, exhibits high sequence identity to the published sequences of xylitol dehydrogenases from yeast origins, but contains a second, additional binding site for Zn2+. The enzyme catalyzed the NAD-dependent oxidation of xylitol and D-sorbitol and the NADH-dependent reduction of D-xylulose and D-fructose. No activity was observed with NADP, L-arabinose, or L-arabinitol. A single 1.4-kb transcript was formed during growth on xylan, D-xylose, L-arabinose, L-arabinitol and, at a lower abundance, xylitol, D-galactose, galactitol, and lactose but not on D-glucose and glycerol. xdh1 deletion mutants exhibited 50% reduced growth rates on D-xylose, whereas growth rates on xylitol remained unaltered. These mutants contained 30% of the xylitol dehydrogenase activity of the parent strain, indicating the presence of a second xylitol dehydrogenase. This activity was shown to be due to lad1-encoded L-arabinitol-4-dehydrogenase, because H. jecorina xdh1 lad1 double-deletion strains failed to grow on D-xylose or xylitol. In contrast, lad1 deletion strains of H. jecorina grew normally on these carbon sources. These results show that H. jecorina contains a single xylitol dehydrogenase which is encoded by xdh1 and is involved in the metabolism of D-xylose and that lad1-encoded L-arabinitol-4-dehydrogenase can compensate for it partially in mutants with a loss of xdh1 function.
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