[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cryptococcus gattii recently emerged as the causative agent of cryptococcosis in healthy individuals in western North America, despite previous characterization of the fungus as a pathogen in tropical or subtropical regions. As a foundation to study the genetics of virulence in this pathogen, we sequenced the genomes of a strain (WM276) representing the predominant global molecular type (VGI) and a clinical strain (R265) of the major genotype (VGIIa) causing disease in North America. We compared these C. gattii genomes with each other and with the genomes of representative strains of the two varieties of Cryptococcus neoformans that generally cause disease in immunocompromised people. Our comparisons included chromosome alignments, analysis of gene content and gene family evolution, and comparative genome hybridization (CGH). These studies revealed that the genomes of the two representative C. gattii strains (genotypes VGI and VGIIa) are colinear for the majority of chromosomes, with some minor rearrangements. However, multiortholog phylogenetic analysis and an evaluation of gene/sequence conservation support the existence of speciation within the C. gattii complex. More extensive chromosome rearrangements were observed upon comparison of the C. gattii and the C. neoformans genomes. Finally, CGH revealed considerable variation in clinical and environmental isolates as well as changes in chromosome copy numbers in C. gattii isolates displaying fluconazole heteroresistance.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Two well characterized signal transduction cascades regulating fungal development and virulence are the MAP kinase and cAMP signaling cascades. Here we review the current state of knowledge on cAMP signaling cascades in fungi. While the processes regulated by cAMP signaling in fungi are as diverse as the fungi themselves, the components involved in signal transduction are remarkably conserved. Fungal cAMP signaling cascades are also quite versatile, which is apparent from the differential regulation of similar biological processes. In this review we compare and contrast cAMP signaling pathways that regulate development in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, and differentiation and virulence in the human pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans and the plant pathogen Ustilago maydis. We also present examples of interaction between the cAMP and MAP kinase signaling cascades in the regulation of fungal development and virulence.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cryptococcus neoformans is an opportunistic fungal pathogen that infects the human central nervous system. This pathogen elaborates two specialized virulence factors: the antioxidant melanin and an antiphagocytic immunosuppressive polysaccharide capsule. A signaling cascade controlling mating and virulence was identified. The PKA1 gene encoding the major cyclic AMP (cAMP)-dependent protein kinase catalytic subunit was identified and disrupted. pka1 mutant strains were sterile, failed to produce melanin or capsule, and were avirulent. The PKR1 gene encoding the protein kinase A (PKA) regulatory subunit was also identified and disrupted. pkr1 mutant strains overproduced capsule and were hypervirulent in animal models of cryptococcosis. pkr1 pka1 double mutant strains exhibited phenotypes similar to that of pka1 mutants, providing epistasis evidence that the Pka1 catalytic subunit functions downstream of the Pkr1 regulatory subunit. The PKA pathway was also shown to function downstream of the Galpha protein Gpa1 and to regulate cAMP production by feedback inhibition. These findings define a Galpha protein-cAMP-PKA signaling pathway regulating differentiation and virulence of a human fungal pathogen.
Molecular and Cellular Biology 06/2001; 21(9):3179-91. · 5.37 Impact Factor