Zhongle Liu

Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Hanover, New Hampshire, United States

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Publications (6)36.55 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The TLO genes are a family of telomere-associated ORFs in the fungal pathogens Candida albicans and C. dubliniensis that encode a subunit of the Mediator complex with homology to Med2. The more virulent pathogen C. albicans has 15 copies of the gene whereas the less pathogenic species C. dubliniensis has only two (CdTLO1 and CdTLO2). In this study we used C. dubliniensis as a model to investigate the role of TLO genes in regulating virulence and also to determine whether TLO paralogs have evolved to regulate distinct functions. A C. dubliniensis tlo1Δ/tlo2Δ mutant is unable to form true hyphae, has longer doubling times in galactose broth, is more susceptible to oxidative stress and forms increased levels of biofilm. Transcript profiling of the tlo1Δ/tlo2Δ mutant revealed increased expression of starvation responses in rich medium and retarded expression of hypha-induced transcripts in serum. ChIP studies indicated that Tlo1 binds to many ORFs including genes that exhibit high and low expression levels under the conditions analyzed. The altered expression of these genes in the tlo1Δ/tlo2Δ null mutant indicates roles for Tlo proteins in transcriptional activation and repression. Complementation of the tlo1Δ/tlo2Δ mutant with TLO1, but not TLO2, restored wild-type filamentous growth, whereas only TLO2 fully suppressed biofilm growth. Complementation with TLO1 also had a greater effect on doubling times in galactose broth. The different abilities of TLO1 and TLO2 to restore wild-type functions was supported by transcript profiling studies that showed that only TLO1 restored expression of hypha-specific genes (UME6, SOD5) and galactose utilisation genes (GAL1 and GAL10), whereas TLO2 restored repression of starvation-induced gene transcription. Thus, Tlo/Med2 paralogs encoding Mediator subunits regulate different virulence properties in Candida spp. and their expansion may account for the increased adaptability of C. albicans relative to other Candida species.
    PLoS Genetics 10/2014; 10(10):e1004658. · 8.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Candida albicans biofilm formation is a key virulence trait that involves hyphal growth and adhesin expression. Pyocyanin (PYO), a phenazine secreted by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, inhibits both C. albicans biofilm formation and development of wrinkled colonies. Using a genetic screen, we identified two mutants, ssn3Δ/Δ and ssn8Δ/Δ, which continued to wrinkle in the presence of PYO. Ssn8 is a cyclin-like protein and Ssn3 is similar to cyclin-dependent kinases; both proteins are part of the heterotetrameric Cdk8 module that forms a complex with the transcriptional co-regulator, Mediator. Ssn3 kinase activity was also required for PYO sensitivity as a kinase dead mutant maintained a wrinkled colony morphology in the presence of PYO. Furthermore, similar phenotypes were observed in mutants lacking the other two components of the Cdk8 module-Srb8 and Srb9. Through metabolomics analyses and biochemical assays, we showed that a compromised Cdk8 module led to increases in glucose consumption, glycolysis-related transcripts, oxidative metabolism and ATP levels even in the presence of PYO. In the mutant, inhibition of respiration to levels comparable to the PYO-treated wild type inhibited wrinkled colony development. Several lines of evidence suggest that PYO does not act through Cdk8. Lastly, the ssn3 mutant was a hyperbiofilm former, and maintained higher biofilm formation in the presence of PYO than the wild type. Together these data provide novel insights into the role of the Cdk8 module of Mediator in regulation of C. albicans physiology and the links between respiratory activity and both wrinkled colony and biofilm development.
    PLoS Genetics 10/2014; 10(10):e1004567. · 8.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The multi-subunit eukaryotic Mediator complex integrates diverse positive and negative gene regulatory signals and transmits them to the core transcription machinery. Mutations in individual subunits within the complex can lead to decreased or increased transcription of certain subsets of genes, which are highly specific to the mutated subunit. Recent studies suggest a role for Mediator in epigenetic silencing. Using white-opaque morphological switching in C. albicans as a model we have shown that Mediator is required for the stability of both the epigenetic silenced (white) and active (opaque) states of the bi-stable transcription circuit driven by the master regulator Wor1. Individual deletions of eight C. albicans Mediator subunits has shown that different Mediator subunits have dramatically diverse effects on the directionality, frequency and environmental induction of epigenetic switching. Among the Mediator deletion mutants analyzed, only Med12 has a steady state transcriptional effect on the components of the Wor1 circuit that clearly corresponds to its effect on switching. Med16 and Med9 have been found to be among a small subset of genes that are required for the stability of both the white and opaque states. Deletion of the Med3 subunit completely destabilizes the opaque state, even though the Wor1 transcription circuit is intact and can be driven by ectopic expression of Wor1. The highly impaired ability of the med3 deletion mutant to mate, even when Wor1 expression is ectopically induced, reveals that the activation of the Wor1 circuit can be decoupled from the opaque state and one of its primary biological consequences.
    Eukaryotic Cell 07/2013; · 3.59 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The amplification of the TLO (for telomere-associated) genes in Candida albicans, compared to its less pathogenic, close relative Candida dubliniensis, suggests a role in virulence. Little, however, is known about the function of the Tlo proteins. We have purified the Mediator coactivator complex from C. albicans (caMediator) and found that Tlo proteins are a stoichiometric component of caMediator. Many members of the Tlo family are expressed, and each is a unique member of caMediator. Protein expression analysis of individual Tlo proteins, as well as the purification of tagged Tlo proteins, demonstrate that there is a large free population of Tlo proteins in addition to the Mediator-associated population. Coexpression and copurification of Tloα12 and caMed3 in Escherichia coli established a direct physical interaction between the two proteins. We have also made a C. albicans med3Δ/Δ strain and purified an intact Mediator from this strain. The analysis of the composition of the med3Δ Mediator shows that it lacks a Tlo subunit. Regarding Mediator function, the med3Δ/Δ strain serves as a substitute for the difficult-to-make tloΔ/Δ C. albicans strain. A potential role of the TLO and MED3 genes in virulence is supported by the inability of the med3Δ/Δ strain to form normal germ tubes. This study of caMediator structure provides initial clues to the mechanism of action of the Tlo genes and a platform for further mechanistic studies of caMediator's involvement in gene regulatory patterns that underlie pathogenesis.
    Eukaryotic Cell 05/2012; 11(7):874-84. · 3.59 Impact Factor
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    Zhongle Liu, Lawrence C Myers
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    ABSTRACT: The Mediator complex transmits activation signals from DNA bound transcription factors to the core transcription machinery. In addition to its canonical role in transcriptional activation, recent studies have demonstrated that S. cerevisiae Mediator can interact directly with nucleosomes, and their histone tails. Mutations in Mediator subunits have shown that Mediator and certain chromatin structures mutually impact each other structurally and functionally in vivo. We have taken a UV photo cross-linking approach to further delineate the molecular basis of Mediator chromatin interactions and help determine whether the impact of certain Mediator mutants on chromatin is direct. Specifically, by using histone tail peptides substituted with an amino acid analog that is a UV activatible crosslinker, we have identified specific subunits within Mediator that participate in histone tail interactions. Using Mediator purified from mutant yeast strains we have evaluated the impact of these subunits on histone tail binding. This analysis has identified the Med5 subunit of Mediator as a target for histone tail interactions and suggests that the previously observed effect of med5 mutations on telomeric heterochromatin and silencing is direct.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(6):e38416. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Mediator complex transmits activation signals from DNA bound transcription factors to the core transcription machinery. Genome wide localization studies have demonstrated that Mediator occupancy not only correlates with high levels of transcription, but that the complex also is present at transcriptionally silenced locations. We provide evidence that Mediator localization is guided by an interaction with histone tails, and that this interaction is regulated by their post-translational modifications. A quantitative, high-density genetic interaction map revealed links between Mediator components and factors affecting chromatin structure, especially histone deacetylases. Peptide binding assays demonstrated that pure wild-type Mediator forms stable complexes with the tails of Histone H3 and H4. These binding assays also showed Mediator-histone H4 peptide interactions are specifically inhibited by acetylation of the histone H4 lysine 16, a residue critical in transcriptional silencing. Finally, these findings were validated by tiling array analysis that revealed a broad correlation between Mediator and nucleosome occupancy in vivo, but a negative correlation between Mediator and nucleosomes acetylated at histone H4 lysine 16. Our studies show that chromatin structure and the acetylation state of histones are intimately connected to Mediator localization.
    Nucleic Acids Research 07/2011; 39(19):8342-54. · 8.81 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

30 Citations
36.55 Total Impact Points


  • 2011–2014
    • Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth
      • Department of Biochemistry
      Hanover, New Hampshire, United States
    • University of Gothenburg
      • Department of Medical Biochemistry and Cell Biology
      Göteborg, Vaestra Goetaland, Sweden