Insertional mutagenesis combined with an inducible filamentation phenotype reveals a conserved STE50 homologue in Cryptococcus neoformans that is required for monokaryotic fruiting and sexual reproduction

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX 78229, USA.
Molecular Microbiology (Impact Factor: 4.42). 02/2011; 79(4):990-1007. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2010.07501.x
Source: PubMed


Cryptococcus neoformans typically grows in a yeast-like morphology; however, under specific conditions the fungus can produce hyphae that are either dikaryotic or monokaryotic. In this study, we developed a simple method for inducing robust monokaryotic fruiting and combined the assay with Agrobacterium tumefaciens insertional mutagenesis to screen for hyphal mutants. A C. neoformans homologue of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae STE50 gene was identified and characterized. STE50 was found to be required for sexual reproduction and monokaryotic fruiting. Ste50p has conserved SAM and RA domains, as well as two SH3 domains specific to basidiomycetous Ste50 proteins. Analysis of protein-protein interaction showed that Ste50p can interact with Ste11p and Ste20p, and epistasis experiments placed STE50 between STE20 and STE11. Genetic analysis of the role of STE50 in sexual reproduction showed that it was required for all steps, from response to pheromone to production of hyphae. Analysis of the effect of individual Ste50p domains on sexual reproduction and monokaryotic fruiting revealed domain-specific effects for both processes. This study revealed that the C. neoformans STE50 gene has both conserved and novel functions during sexual reproduction and monokaryotic fruiting, and these functions are domain-dependent.

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Available from: Jianmin Fu, Jan 16, 2015
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    • "Interestingly, Ste50 is also required for the production of monokaryotic hyphae during monokaryotic fruiting (Fu et al., 2011). The main role of Ste50 appears to be similar to the S. cerevisiae homologue in that it serves as an adapter protein for bringing Ste20 and Ste11 together to activate Ste11 (Fu et al., 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: The ability of fungi to transition between unicellular and multicellular growth has a profound impact on our health and the economy. Many important fungal pathogens of humans, animals, and plants are dimorphic, and the ability to switch between morphological states has been associated with their virulence. Cryptococcus neoformans is a human fungal pathogen that causes life-threatening meningoencephalitis in immunocompromised and, in some cases, immunocompetent hosts. Cryptococcus neoformans grows vegetatively as a budding yeast and switches to hyphal growth during the sexual cycle, which is important in the study of cryptococcal pathogenicity because spores resulting from sexual development are infectious propagules and can colonize the lungs of a host. In addition, sexual reproduction contributes to the genotypic variability of Cryptococcus species, which may lead to increased fitness and virulence. Despite significant advances in our understanding of the mechanisms behind the development of C. neoformans, our knowledge is still incomplete. Recent studies have led to the emergence of many intriguing questions and hypotheses. In this review, we describe and discuss the most interesting aspects of C. neoformans development and address their impact on pathogenicity.
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    ABSTRACT: Cryptococcus neoformans was first recognized as a human pathogen over 100 years ago when it was independently isolated from a patient with a tibial infection and from environmental sources (peach juice). This basidiomycete has subsequently been isolated from most regions of the world, causing a significant number of lethal infections each year, especially in AIDS patients. Originally described as a yeast-like fungus causing human and animal infections, C. neoformans is now known to undergo morphological transitions that are important for its survival and dissemination. Some of the signaling pathways that control yeast and hyphal morphogenesis in this organism are also central regulators of its pathogenesis.
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    ABSTRACT: Cryptococcus neoformans is a heterothallic fungal pathogen of humans and animals. Although the fungus grows primarily as a yeast, hyphae are produced during the sexual phase and during a process called monokaryotic fruiting, which is also believed to involve sexual reproduction, but between cells of the same mating type. Here we report a novel monokaryotic fruiting mechanism that is dependent on the cell cycle and occurs in haploid cells in the absence of sexual reproduction. Cells grown at 37°C were found to rapidly produce hyphae (∼4 hrs) and at high frequency (∼40% of the population) after inoculation onto hyphae-inducing agar. Microscopic examination of the 37°C seed culture revealed a mixture of normal-sized and enlarged cells. Micromanipulation of single cells demonstrated that only enlarged cells were able to produce hyphae and genetic analysis confirmed that hyphae did not arise from α-α mating or endoduplication. Cell cycle analysis revealed that cells grown at 37°C had an increased population of cells in G2 arrest, with the proportion correlated with the frequency of monokaryotic fruiting. Cell sorting experiments demonstrated that enlarged cells were only found in the G2-arrested population and only this population contained cells able to produce hyphae. Treatment of cells at low temperature with the G2 cell cycle arrest agent, nocodazole, induced hyphal growth, confirming the role of the cell cycle in this process. Taken together, these results reveal a mating-independent mechanism for monokaryotic fruiting, which is dependent on the cell cycle for induction of hyphal competency.
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