[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Incidence and mortality rates of invasive aspergillosis clearly indicate the need of novel antifungals to treat patients suffering from this disease. Fungal proteins playing a crucial role in pathogenesis and with no orthologue in human cells are considered as primary therapeutic targets for the development of new antifungals with a high therapeutic index, one of the major drawbacks of the standard antifungal therapy, so far. In this work, we have analyzed the role in pathogenesis of the key enzymes of the Aspergillus fumigatus glyxoxylate cycle, isocitrate lyase and malate synthase, two possible candidates to primary therapeutic targets in this fungus. Deletion strains lacking isocitrate lyase (DeltaacuD strains) or malate synthase (DeltaacuE mutants) were constructed in this work. The Neurospora crassa pyr-4 gene was used as the replacing marker in gene deletion experiments. The pathogenicities of DeltaacuD and DeltaacuE mutants were tested in neutropenic mice and compared with those of two reference wild-type isolates A. fumigatus 237 and A. fumigatus 293. Interestingly, virulence and cytological studies clearly indicated the dispensability of the A. fumigatus glyoxylate cycle for pathogenicity. In addition, these results suggested the suitability of the pyr-4 gene as a valuable replacing marker for virulence studies in this fungus, a fact that was further confirmed by gene expression analyses. Finally, growth tests were performed to investigate the germination and growth of the DeltaacuD and DeltaacuE strains in nutrient deprivation environments, resembling the conditions that A. fumigatus conidia face after phagocytosis. Results obtained in this work strongly suggest that the ability to grow on lipids (triglycerides) of A. fumigatus isocitrate lyase and malate synthase deletion strains accounts for their fully virulent phenotype.
Fungal Genetics and Biology 02/2008; 45(1):45-60. · 3.26 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Aspergillus fumigatus causes invasive aspergillosis, a mycosis that is usually fatal in immunocompromised patients. Functional genomics in this fungus will aid the discovery of novel antifungal drugs to treat invasive aspergillosis. However, there is still a need for appropriate molecular genetic tools to facilitate such functional studies. Here, we describe the use of a conditional gene expression system allowing the identification of novel therapeutic targets through validation of essential genes in A. fumigatus. This system is based on the capacity of the Aspergillus nidulans alcA promoter (alcA(p)) to tightly regulate gene expression in this fungus. Conditionally regulated gene expression in A. fumigatus was demonstrated by transcriptional and phenotypic analyses of strains expressing a nuclear migration gene with a terminal phenotype, the A. fumigatus nudC gene, under control of this promoter. This conditional expression system, the first one described in A. fumigatus, will also be useful for investigating the function of essential genes by altering the threonine/glucose ratio in the growth medium.
Fungal Genetics and Biology 12/2003; 40(2):103-14. · 3.26 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Deficiency of the carnitine/acylcarnitine translocase (CACT), the most severe disorder of fatty acid beta-oxidation, is usually lethal in both humans and animals, precluding the development of animal models of the disease. In contrast, CACT deficiency is conditionally lethal in the fungus Aspergillus nidulans, since loss-of-function mutations in acuH, the translocase structural gene, do not prevent growth on carbon sources other than ketogenic compounds, such as fatty acids. Here, we describe the molecular characterization of extant acuH alleles and the development of a fungal model for CACT deficiency based on the ability of human CACT to fully complement, when expressed at physiological levels, the growth defect of an A. nidulans DeltaacuH strain on acetate and long-chain fatty acids. By using growth tests and in vitro assays this model enabled us to carry out a functional characterization of human CACT mutations showing that it may be useful for distinguishing potentially pathogenic human CACT missense mutations from neutral, single residue substitution-causing polymorphisms.
Fungal Genetics and Biology 09/2003; 39(3):211-20. · 3.26 Impact Factor