Deciphering cell wall integrity signalling in Aspergillus fumigatus: identification and functional characterization of cell wall stress sensors and relevant Rho GTPases.

Max von Pettenkofer-Institut, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Pettenkoferstraße 9a, Munich, Germany.
Molecular Microbiology (Impact Factor: 5.03). 02/2012; 83(3):506-19. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2011.07946.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The fungal cell wall, a conserved and highly dynamic structure, is essential for virulence and viability of fungal pathogens and is an important antifungal drug target. The cell wall integrity (CWI) signalling pathway regulates shape and biosynthesis of the cell wall. In this work we identified, localized and functionally characterized four putative CWI stress sensors of Aspergillus fumigatus, an airborne opportunistic human pathogen and the cause of invasive aspergillosis. We show that Wsc1 is specifically required for resistance to echinocandin antifungals. MidA is specifically required for elevated temperature tolerance and resistance to the cell wall perturbing agents congo red and calcofluor white. Wsc1, Wsc3 and MidA additionally have overlapping functions and are redundantly required for radial growth and conidiation. We have also analysed the roles of three Rho GTPases that have been implicated in CWI signalling in other fungi. We show that Rho1 is essential and that conditional downregulation of rho1 or deletion of rho2 or rho4 results in severely impaired CWI. Our data indicate significant functional differences between the CWI stress sensors of yeasts and moulds.

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    ABSTRACT: Kexin-like proteins belong to the subtilisin-like family of the proteinases that cleave secretory proproteins to their active forms. Several fungal kexin-like proteins have been investigated. The mutants lacking of kexin-like protein display strong phenotypes such as cell wall defect, abnormal polarity, and, in case of Candida albicans, diminished virulence. However, only several proteins have been confirmed as the substrates of kexin-like proteases in these fungal species. It still remains unclear how kexin-like proteins contribute to the morphogenesis in these fungal species. In this study, a kexB-null mutant of the human opportunistic fungal pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus was constructed and analyzed. The ΔkexB mutant showed retarded growth, temperature-sensitive cell wall defect, reduced conidia formation, and abnormal polarity. Biochemical analyses revealed that deletion of the kexB gene resulted in impaired N-glycan processing, activation of the MpkA-dependent cell wall integrity signaling pathway, and ER-stress. Results from in vivo assays demonstrated that the mutant exhibited an attenuated virulence in immunecompromised mice. Based on our results, the kexin-like endoprotease KexB was involved in the N-glycan processing, which provides a novel insight to understand how kexin-like protein affects the cell-wall modifying enzymes and therefore morphogenesis in fungi. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Inc.
    Fungal Genetics and Biology 02/2015; 76. DOI:10.1016/j.fgb.2015.02.006 · 3.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Cell wall integrity, vesicle transport and protein secretion are key factors contributing to the vitality and productivity of filamentous fungal cell factories such as Aspergillus niger. In order to pioneer rational strain improvement programs, fundamental knowledge on the genetic basis of these processes is required. The aim of the present study was thus to unravel survival strategies of A. niger when challenged with compounds interfering directly or indirectly with its cell wall integrity: calcofluor white, caspofungin, aureobasidin A, FK506 and fenpropimorph. Results: Transcriptomics signatures of A. niger and phenotypic analyses of selected null mutant strains were used to predict regulator proteins mediating the survival responses against these stressors. This integrated approach allowed us to reconstruct a model for the cell wall salvage gene network of A. niger that ensures survival of the fungus upon cell surface stress. The model predicts that (i) caspofungin and aureobasidin A induce the cell wall integrity pathway as a main compensatory response via induction of RhoB and RhoD, respectively, eventually activating the mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase MkkA and the transcription factor RlmA. (ii) RlmA is the main transcription factor required for the protection against calcofluor white but it cooperates with MsnA and CrzA to ensure survival of A. niger when challenged with caspofungin and aureobasidin A. (iii) Membrane stress provoked by aureobasidin A via disturbance of sphingolipid synthesis induces cell wall stress, whereas fenpropimorph-induced disturbance of ergosterol synthesis does not. Conclusion: The present work uncovered a sophisticated defence system of A. niger which employs at least three transcription factors -RlmA, MsnA and CrzA – to protect itself against cell wall stress. The transcriptomic data furthermore predicts a fourth transfactor, SrbA, which seems to be specifically important to survive fenpropimorph-induced cell membrane stress. Future studies will disclose how these regulators are interlocked in different signaling pathways to secure survival of A. niger under different cell wall stress conditions.
    12/2014; 1(5):1 - 16. DOI:10.1186/s40694-014-0005-8


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