The genome of the basidiomycetous yeast and human pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans.

Institute for Genomic Research, 9712 Medical Center Drive, Rockville, MD 20850, USA.
Science (Impact Factor: 31.2). 03/2005; 307(5713):1321-4. DOI: 10.1126/science.1103773
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Cryptococcus neoformans is a basidiomycetous yeast ubiquitous in the environment, a model for fungal pathogenesis, and an opportunistic human pathogen of global importance. We have sequenced its approximately 20-megabase genome, which contains approximately 6500 intron-rich gene structures and encodes a transcriptome abundant in alternatively spliced and antisense messages. The genome is rich in transposons, many of which cluster at candidate centromeric regions. The presence of these transposons may drive karyotype instability and phenotypic variation. C. neoformans encodes unique genes that may contribute to its unusual virulence properties, and comparison of two phenotypically distinct strains reveals variation in gene content in addition to sequence polymorphisms between the genomes.

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    ABSTRACT: Abstract Background Duplication, followed by fixation or random loss of novel genes, contributes to genome evolution. Particular outcomes of duplication events are possibly associated with pathogenic life histories in fungi. To date, differential gene gain and loss have not been studied at genomic scales in fungal pathogens, despite this phenomenon's known importance in virulence in bacteria and viruses. Results To determine if patterns of gene duplication differed between pathogens and non-pathogens, we identified gene families across nine euascomycete and two basidiomycete species. Gene family size distributions were fit to power laws to compare gene duplication trends in pathogens versus non-pathogens. Fungal phytopathogens showed globally altered patterns of gene duplication, as indicated by differences in gene family size distribution. We also identified sixteen examples of gene family expansion and five instances of gene family contraction in pathogenic lineages. Expanded gene families included those predicted to be important in melanin biosynthesis, host cell wall degradation and transport functions. Contracted families included those encoding genes involved in toxin production, genes with oxidoreductase activity, as well as subunits of the vacuolar ATPase complex. Surveys of the functional distribution of gene duplicates indicated that pathogens show enrichment for gene duplicates associated with receptor and hydrolase activities, while euascomycete pathogens appeared to have not only these differences, but also significantly more duplicates associated with regulatory and carbohydrate binding functions. Conclusion Differences in the overall levels of gene duplication in phytopathogenic species versus non-pathogenic relatives implicate gene inventory flux as an important virulence-associated process in fungi. We hypothesize that the observed patterns of gene duplicate enrichment, gene family expansion and contraction reflect adaptation within pathogenic life histories. These adaptations were likely shaped by ancient, as well as contemporary, intimate associations with monocot hosts.
    BMC Genomics 01/2008; · 4.40 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cryptococcus, a major cause of disseminated infections in immunocompromised patients, kills over 600,000 people per year worldwide. Genes involved in virulence of this meningitis-causing fungus are being characterized at an increasing rate, and to date, at least 648 Cryptococcus gene names have been published. However, these data are scattered throughout the literature and are challenging to find. Furthermore, conflicts in locus identification exist, such that named genes have been subsequently published under new names, or names associated with one locus have been used for another locus. To avoid these conflicts and provide a central source of Cryptococcus gene information, we have collected all published Cryptococcus gene names from the scientific literature and associated them with standard Cryptococcus locus identifiers, and incorporated these into FungiDB ( FungiDB is a pan-fungal genome database that collects gene information and functional data, and provides search tools for 61 species of fungi and oomycetes. We applied these published names to a manually curated ortholog set of all Cryptococcus species currently in FungiDB, including C. neoformans var. neoformans strains JEC21 and B-3501A, C. neoformans var. grubii strain H99 and C. gattii strains R265 and WM276, and have written brief descriptions of their functions. We also compiled a protocol for gene naming that summarizes guidelines proposed by members of the Cryptococcus research community. The centralization of genomic and literature-based information for Cryptococcus at FungiDB will help researchers communicate about genes of interest, such as those related to virulence, and will further facilitate research on this pathogen.
    Eukaryotic Cell 05/2014; · 3.59 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cryptococcus neoformans is a human fungal pathogen that often causes lung and brain infections in immunocompromised patients, with a high fatality rate. Our previous results showed that an F-box protein, Fbp1, is essential for Cryptococcus virulence independent of the classical virulence factors, suggesting a novel virulence control mechanism. In this study, we show that Fbp1 is part of the ubiquitin-proteasome system, and we further investigated the mechanism of Fbp1 function during infection. Time course studies revealed that the fbp1Δ mutant causes little damage in the infected lung and that the fungal burden in the lung remains at a low but persistent level throughout infection. The fbp1Δ mutant cannot disseminate to other organs following pulmonary infection in the murine inhalation model of cryptococcosis but still causes brain infection in a murine intravenous injection model, suggesting that the block of dissemination of the fbp1Δ mutant is due to its inability to leave the lung. The fbp1Δ mutant showed a defect in intracellular proliferation after phagocytosis in a Cryptococcus-macrophage interaction assay, which likely contributes to its virulence attenuation. To elucidate the molecular basis of the SCF(Fbp1) E3 ligase function, we analyzed potential Fbp1 substrates based on proteomic approaches combined with phenotypic analysis. One substrate, the inositol phosphosphingolipid-phospholipase C1 (Isc1), is required for fungal survival inside macrophage cells, which is consistent with the role of Fbp1 in regulating Cryptococcus-macrophage interaction and fungal virulence. Our results thus reveal a new determinant of fungal virulence that involves the posttranslational regulation of inositol sphingolipid biosynthesis.
    Infection and immunity 02/2014; 82(2):557-68. · 4.21 Impact Factor

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