The transcription factor CreA is the main regulator responsible for carbon repression in filamentous fungi. CreA is a wide domain regulator that binds to regulatory elements in the promoters of target genes to repress their transcription. Penicillin biosynthesis and the expression of penicillin biosynthetic genes are subject to carbon repression. However, evidence of the participation of CreA in this regulation is still lacking, and previous studies on the promoter of the pcbC gene of Aspergillus nidulans indicated the lack of involvement of CreA in its regulation. Here we present clear evidence of the participation of CreA in carbon repression of penicillin biosynthesis and expression of the pcbAB gene, encoding the first enzyme of the pathway, in Penicillium chrysogenum. Mutations in cis of some of the putative CreA binding sites present in the pcbAB gene promoter fused to a reporter gene caused an important increase in the measured enzyme activity in glucose-containing medium, whereas activity in the medium with lactose was not affected. An RNAi strategy was used to attenuate the expression of the creA gene. Transformants expressing a small interfering RNA for creA showed higher penicillin production, and this increase was more evident when glucose was used as carbon source. These results confirm that CreA plays an important role in the regulation of penicillin biosynthesis in P. chrysogenum and opens the possibility of its utilization to improve the industrial production of this antibiotic.
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