Article

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.

0 Bookmarks
 · 
86 Views
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Destruction of the pulmonary epithelium is a major feature of lung diseases caused by the mould pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus. Although it is widely postulated that tissue invasion is governed by fungal proteases, A. fumigatus mutants lacking individual or multiple enzymes remain fully invasive, suggesting a concomitant requirement for other pathogenic activities during host invasion. In this study we discovered, and exploited, a novel, tissue non-invasive, phenotype in A. fumigatus mutants lacking the pH-responsive transcription factor PacC. Our study revealed a novel mode of epithelial entry, occurring in a cell wall-dependent manner prior to protease production, and via the Dectin-1 β-glucan receptor. ΔpacC mutants are defective in both contact-mediated epithelial entry and protease expression, and significantly attenuated for pathogenicity in leukopenic mice. We combined murine infection modelling, in vivo transcriptomics, and in vitro infections of human alveolar epithelia, to delineate two major, and sequentially acting, PacC-dependent processes impacting epithelial integrity in vitro and tissue invasion in the whole animal. We demonstrate that A. fumigatus spores and germlings are internalised by epithelial cells in a contact-, actin-, cell wall- and Dectin-1 dependent manner and ΔpacC mutants, which aberrantly remodel the cell wall during germinative growth, are unable to gain entry into epithelial cells, both in vitro and in vivo. We further show that PacC acts as a global transcriptional regulator of secreted molecules during growth in the leukopenic mammalian lung, and profile the full cohort of secreted gene products expressed during invasive infection. Our study reveals a combinatorial mode of tissue entry dependent upon sequential, and mechanistically distinct, perturbations of the pulmonary epithelium and demonstrates, for the first time a protective role for Dectin-1 blockade in epithelial defences. Infecting ΔpacC mutants are hypersensitive to cell wall-active antifungal agents highlighting the value of PacC signalling as a target for antifungal therapy.
    PLoS Pathogens 10/2014; 10(10):e1004413. · 8.14 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In the external environment, or within a host organism, filamentous fungi experience sudden changes in nutrient availability, osmolality, pH, temperature and the exposure to toxic compounds. The fungal cell wall represents the first line of defense, while also performing essential roles in morphology, development and virulence. A polarized secretion system is paramount for cell wall biosynthesis, filamentous growth, nutrient acquisition and interactions with the environment. The unique ability of filamentous fungi to secrete has resulted in their industrial adoption as fungal cell factories. Protein maturation and secretion commences in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). The unfolded protein response (UPR) maintains ER functionality during exposure to secretion and cell wall stress. UPR, therefore, influences secretion and cell wall homeostasis, which in turn impacts upon numerous fungal traits important to pathogenesis and biotechnology. Subsequently, this review describes the relevance of the cell wall and UPR systems to filamentous fungal pathogens or industrial microbes and then highlights interconnections between the two systems. Ultimately, the possible biotechnological applications of an enhanced understanding of such regulatory systems in combating fungal disease, or the removal of natural bottlenecks in protein secretion in an industrial setting, are discussed.
    Briefings in functional genomics. 07/2014;
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    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.
    Fungal Biology and Biotechnology. 12/2014; 1(5):1 - 16.

Full-text

Download
0 Downloads