Down-regulation of aflatoxin biosynthetic genes in Aspergillus parasiticus by Heliopsis longipes roots and affinin for reduction of aflatoxin production

Génesis V. Buitimea-Cantúa*, Elisa Magaña-Barajas, Nydia E. Buitimea-Cantúa, Héctor Manuel Leija Gutiérrez, María del Refugio Rocha-Pizaña, Ema Carina Rosas-Burgos, Alejandro Hernández-Morales, Jorge Molina-Torres

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Affinin present in Heliopsis longipes roots has been identified as an anti-aflatoxin molecule. However, its mechanism of action has yet to be clarified. Aflatoxins biosynthesis involves not less than 27 enzymatic reactions. In this work, the genes aflG, aflH, aflI, aflK, aflL, aflM, aflO, aflP, and aflQ of the aflatoxins cluster and the aflS gene encoding an internal regulatory factor involved in aflatoxins biosynthesis in Aspergillus parasiticus, were studied by qRT-PCR. Results demonstrated that ethanolic extract of H. longipes roots and affinin inhibit aflatoxin biosynthesis and fungal growth in a dose-dependent manner. At 300 µg/mL, ethanolic extract and affinin presented the highest inhibition of radial growth (86% and 94%) and aflatoxin production (68% and 80%). The qRT-PCR analysis demonstrated that nine tested genes were down-regulated by affinin and ethanolic extract. The most down-regulated was the aflK, a gene that encodes an enzyme cyclase with double function during the aflatoxin biosynthesis. While no significant down-regulation was obtaining for aflH gene. Exposure to affinin also resulted in decreased transcript levels of the internal regulator factor aflS. Based on our results, a model showing the regulatory mechanism in aflatoxin biosynthesis and its role in gene expression was proposed. In conclusion, affinin modulates the expression of several aflatoxin biosynthetic genes, leading to mycotoxin biosynthesis inhibition. Therefore, H. longipes roots is a suitable candidate to developed control strategies via lowering gene expressions as a future perspective in reducing aflatoxin contamination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)899-908
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Environmental Science and Health - Part B Pesticides, Food Contaminants, and Agricultural Wastes
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2021

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  • Affinin
  • Aspergillus parasiticus
  • Heliopsis longipes roots
  • aflatoxin biosynthesis
  • qRT-PCR analysis


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