Transcriptional network of multiple capsule and melanin genes governed by the Cryptococcus neoformans cyclic AMP cascade.
ABSTRACT Cryptococcus neoformans is an opportunistic human fungal pathogen that elaborates several virulence attributes, including a polysaccharide capsule and melanin pigments. A conserved Galpha protein/cyclic AMP (cAMP) pathway controls melanin and capsule production. To identify targets of this pathway, we used an expression profiling approach to define genes that are transcriptionally regulated by the Galpha protein Gpa1. This approach revealed that Gpa1 transcriptionally regulates multiple genes involved in capsule assembly and identified two additional genes with a marked dependence on Gpa1 for transcription. The first is the LAC1 gene, encoding the laccase enzyme that catalyzes a rate-limiting step in diphenol oxidation and melanin production. The second gene identified (LAC2) is adjacent to the LAC1 gene and encodes a second laccase that shares 75% nucleotide identity with LAC1. Similar to the LAC1 gene, LAC2 is induced in response to glucose deprivation. However, LAC2 basal transcript levels are much lower than those for LAC1. Accordingly, a lac2 mutation results in only a modest delay in melanin formation. LAC2 overexpression suppresses the melanin defects of gpa1 and lac1 mutants and partially restores virulence of these strains. These studies provide mechanistic insights into the regulation of capsule and melanin production by the C. neoformans cAMP pathway and demonstrate that multiple laccases contribute to C. neoformans melanin production and pathogenesis.
Article: Characterization of an Nmr homolog that modulates GATA factor-mediated nitrogen metabolite repression in Cryptococcus neoformans.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Nitrogen source utilization plays a critical role in fungal development, secondary metabolite production and pathogenesis. In both the Ascomycota and Basidiomycota, GATA transcription factors globally activate the expression of catabolic enzyme-encoding genes required to degrade complex nitrogenous compounds. However, in the presence of preferred nitrogen sources such as ammonium, GATA factor activity is inhibited in some species through interaction with co-repressor Nmr proteins. This regulatory phenomenon, nitrogen metabolite repression, enables preferential utilization of readily assimilated nitrogen sources. In the basidiomycete pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans, the GATA factor Gat1/Are1 has been co-opted into regulating multiple key virulence traits in addition to nitrogen catabolism. Here, we further characterize Gat1/Are1 function and investigate the regulatory role of the predicted Nmr homolog Tar1. While GAT1/ARE1 expression is induced during nitrogen limitation, TAR1 transcription is unaffected by nitrogen availability. Deletion of TAR1 leads to inappropriate derepression of non-preferred nitrogen catabolic pathways in the simultaneous presence of favoured sources. In addition to exhibiting its evolutionary conserved role of inhibiting GATA factor activity under repressing conditions, Tar1 also positively regulates GAT1/ARE1 transcription under non-repressing conditions. The molecular mechanism by which Tar1 modulates nitrogen metabolite repression, however, remains open to speculation. Interaction between Tar1 and Gat1/Are1 was undetectable in a yeast two-hybrid assay, consistent with Tar1 and Gat1/Are1 each lacking the conserved C-terminus regions present in ascomycete Nmr proteins and GATA factors that are known to interact with each other. Importantly, both Tar1 and Gat1/Are1 are suppressors of C. neoformans virulence, reiterating and highlighting the paradigm of nitrogen regulation of pathogenesis.PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(3):e32585. · 4.09 Impact Factor
Article: Brain Inositol Is a Novel Stimulator for Promoting Cryptococcus Penetration of the Blood-Brain Barrier.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Cryptococcus neoformans is the most common cause of fungal meningitis, with high mortality and morbidity. The reason for the frequent occurrence of Cryptococcus infection in the central nervous system (CNS) is poorly understood. The facts that human and animal brains contain abundant inositol and that Cryptococcus has a sophisticated system for the acquisition of inositol from the environment suggests that host inositol utilization may contribute to the development of cryptococcal meningitis. In this study, we found that inositol plays an important role in Cryptococcus traversal across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) both in an in vitro human BBB model and in in vivo animal models. The capacity of inositol to stimulate BBB crossing was dependent upon fungal inositol transporters, indicated by a 70% reduction in transmigration efficiency in mutant strains lacking two major inositol transporters, Itr1a and Itr3c. Upregulation of genes involved in the inositol catabolic pathway was evident in a microarray analysis following inositol treatment. In addition, inositol increased the production of hyaluronic acid in Cryptococcus cells, which is a ligand known to binding host CD44 receptor for their invasion. These studies suggest an inositol-dependent Cryptococcus traversal of the BBB, and support our hypothesis that utilization of host-derived inositol by Cryptococcus contributes to CNS infection.PLoS Pathogens 04/2013; 9(4):e1003247. · 9.13 Impact Factor
[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Iron is essential and ubiquitous in living organisms. The competition for this micronutrient between the host and its pathogens has been related to disease establishment. Cryptococcus gattii is an encapsulated yeast that causes cryptococcosis mainly in immunocompetent individuals. In this study, we analyzed the proteomic profile of the C. gattii R265 Vancouver Island isolate under iron-depleted and -repleted conditions by multidimensional protein identification technology (MudPIT) and by 2D-GE. Proteins and key mechanisms affected by alteration of iron levels such as capsule production, cAMP-signaling pathway, response to stress, and metabolic pathways related to mitochondrial function were identified. Our results also show both proteomic methodologies employed to be complementary.Journal of Proteome Research 01/2012; 11(1):189-205. · 5.11 Impact Factor