The Flo11/Muc1 flocculin has diverse phenotypic effects. Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells of strain background Σ1278b require Flo11p to form pseudohyphae, invade agar, adhere to plastic, and develop biofilms, but they do not flocculate. We show that S. cerevisiae var. diastaticus strains, on the other hand, exhibit Flo11-dependent flocculation and biofilm formation but do not invade agar or form pseudohyphae. In order to study the nature of the Flo11p proteins produced by these two types of strains, we examined secreted Flo11p, encoded by a plasmid-borne gene, in which the glycosylphosphatidylinositol anchor sequences had been replaced by a histidine tag. A protein of approximately 196 kDa was secreted from both strains, which upon purification and concentration, aggregated into a form with a very high molecular mass. When secreted Flo11p was covalently attached to microscopic beads, it conferred the ability to specifically bind to S. cerevisiae var. diastaticus cells, which flocculate, but not to Σ1278b cells, which do not flocculate. This was true for the 196-kDa form as well as the high-molecular-weight form of Flo11p, regardless of the strain source. The coated beads bound to S. cerevisiae var. diastaticus cells expressing FLO11 and failed to bind to cells with a deletion of FLO11, demonstrating a homotypic adhesive mechanism. Flo11p was shown to be a mannoprotein. Bead-to-cell adhesion was inhibited by mannose, which also inhibits Flo11-dependent flocculation in vivo, further suggesting that this in vitro system is a useful model for the study of fungal adhesion.
The N-terminal carbohydrate-binding domains of Flo1p and Lg-Flo1p from two different Saccharomyces spp. were overexpressed in E. coli, purified and crystallized in different conditions. A preliminary X-ray analysis of the crystallized flocculin–protein complexes is reported in this work.
Flo1p and Lg-Flo1p are two cell-wall adhesins belonging to the Flo (flocculation) protein family from the yeasts Saccharomyces cerevisiae and S. pastorianus. The main function of these modular proteins endowed with calcium-dependent lectin activity is to mediate cell–cell adhesion events during yeast flocculation, a process which is well known at the cellular level but still not fully characterized from a molecular perspective. Recently, structural features of the N-terminal Flo lectin domains, including the N-terminal domain of Lg-Flo1p (N-Lg-Flo1p), and their interactions with carbohydrate molecules have been investigated. However, structural data concerning the N-terminal domain of Flo1p (N-Flo1p), which is the most specific among the Flo proteins, are missing and information about the N-Lg-Flo1p–carbohydrate interaction still lacks detailed structural insight. Here, the crystallization and preliminary X-ray characterization of the apo form and the mannose complex of N-Flo1p and X-ray analysis of N-Lg-Flo1p crystals soaked in α-1,2-mannobiose are reported. The N-Flo1p crystals diffracted to a resolution of 1.43 Å in the case of the apo form and to 2.12 Å resolution for the mannose complex. Both crystals were orthorhombic and belonged to space group P212121, with one molecule in the asymmetric unit. The N-Lg-Flo1p–α-1,2-mannobiose complex crystal diffracted to 1.73 Å resolution and belonged to the monoclinic space group P1211 with two molecules in the asymmetric unit.
Saccharomyces cerevisiae; Saccharomyces pastorianus; yeast flocculation; flocculins; Flo proteins; lectins; Flo1p; Lg-Flo1p
Cell–cell and cell–surface adherence represents initial steps in forming multicellular aggregates or in establishing cell–surface interactions. The commonly used Saccharomyces cerevisiae laboratory strain S288c carries a flo8 mutation, and is only able to express the flocculin-encoding genes FLO1 and FLO11, when FLO8 is restored. We show here that the two flocculin genes exhibit differences in regulation to execute distinct functions under various environmental conditions. In contrast to the laboratory strain Σ1278b, haploids of the S288c genetic background require FLO1 for cell–cell and cell–substrate adhesion, whereas FLO11 is required for pseudohyphae formation of diploids. In contrast to FLO11, FLO1 repression requires the Sin4p mediator tail component, but is independent of the repressor Sfl1p. FLO1 regulation also differs from FLO11, because it requires neither the KSS1 MAP kinase cascade nor the pathways which lead to the transcription factors Gcn4p or Msn1p. The protein kinase A pathway and the transcription factors Flo8p and Mss11p are the major regulators for FLO1 expression. Therefore, S. cerevisiae is prepared to simultaneously express two genes of its otherwise silenced FLO reservoir resulting in an appropriate cellular surface for different environments.
We report the characterization of a gene encoding a novel flocculin related to the STA genes of yeast, which encode secreted glucoamylase. The STA genes comprise sequences that are homologous to the sporulation-specific glucoamylase SGA and to two other sequences, S2 and S1. We find that S2 and S1 are part of a single gene which we have named FLO11. The sequence of FLO11 reveals a 4,104-bp open reading frame on chromosome IX whose predicted product is similar in overall structure to the class of yeast serine/threonine-rich GPI-anchored cell wall proteins. An amino-terminal domain containing a signal sequence and a carboxy-terminal domain with homology to GPI (glycosyl-phosphatidyl-inositol) anchor-containing proteins are separated by a central domain containing a highly repeated threonine- and serine-rich sequence. Yeast cells that express FLO11 aggregate in the calcium-dependent process of flocculation. Flocculation is abolished when FLO11 is disrupted. The product of STA1 also is shown to have flocculating activity. When a green fluorescent protein fusion of FLO11 was expressed from the FLO11 promoter on a single-copy plasmid, fluorescence was observed in vivo at the periphery of cells. We propose that FLO11 encodes a flocculin because of its demonstrated role in flocculation, its structural similarity to other members of the FLO gene family, and the cell surface location of its product. FLO11 gene sequences are present in all yeast strains tested, including all standard laboratory strains, unlike the STA genes which are present only in the variant strain Saccharomyces cerevisiae var. diastaticus. FLO11 differs from all other yeast flocculins in that it is located near a centromere rather than a telomere, and its expression is regulated by mating type. Repression of FLO11-dependent flocculation in diploids is conferred by the mating-type repressor al/alpha2.
The Saccharomyces cerevisiae FLO1 gene encodes a large 1,536-amino-acid serine- and threonine-rich protein involved in flocculation. We have assessed the localization of Flo1p by immunoelectron microscopy, and in this study we show that this protein is located in the external mannoprotein layer of the cell wall, at the plasma membrane level and in the periplasm. The protein was also visualized in the endoplasmic reticulum and in the nuclear envelope, indicating that it was secreted through the secretory pathway. The protein was detected by Western blotting in cell wall extracts as a high-molecular-mass (>200 kDa) polydisperse material obviously as a result of extensive N and probably O glycosylation. Flo1p was extracted from cell walls in large amounts by boiling in sodium dodecyl sulfate, suggesting that it is noncovalently anchored to the cell wall network. The membranous forms of Flo1p were shown to be solubilized by phosphatidylinositol-phospholipase C treatment, suggesting that Flo1p is glycosyl phosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchored to this organelle. The expression of truncated forms with the hydrophobic C-terminal domain deleted led to the secretion of the protein in the culture medium. The hydrophobic C terminus, which is a putative GPI anchoring domain, is therefore necessary for the attachment of Flo1p in the cell wall. Deletion analysis also revealed that the N-terminal domain of Flo1p was essential for cellular aggregation. On the whole, our data indicate that Flo1p is a true cell wall protein which plays a direct role in cell-cell interaction.
Candida albicans adhesion to host tissues contributes to its virulence and adhesion to medical devices permits biofilm formation, but we know relatively little about the molecular mechanisms governing C. albicans adhesion to materials or mammalian cells. Saccharomyces cerevisiae provides an attractive model system for studying adhesion in yeast because of its well-characterized genetics and gene expression systems and the conservation of signal transduction pathways among the yeasts. In this study, we used a parallel plate flow chamber to screen and characterize attachment of a flo8Δ S. cerevisiae strain expressing a C. albicans genomic library to a polystyrene surface. The gene EAP1 was isolated as a putative cell wall adhesin. Sequence analysis of EAP1 shows that it contains a signal peptide, a glycosylphosphatidylinositol anchor site, and possesses homology to many other yeast genes encoding cell wall proteins. In addition to increasing adhesion to polystyrene, heterologous expression of EAP1 in S. cerevisiae and autonomous expression of EAP1 in a C. albicans efg1 homozygous null mutant significantly enhanced attachment to HEK293 kidney epithelial cells. EAP1 expression also restored invasive growth to haploid flo8Δ and flo11Δ strains as well as filamentous growth to diploid flo8/flo8 and flo11/flo11 strains. Transcription of EAP1 in C. albicans is regulated by the transcription factor Efg1p, suggesting that EAP1 expression is activated by the cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase pathway.
Yeast flocculation is a phenomenon which is believed to result from an interaction between a lectin-like protein and a mannose chain located on the yeast cell surface. The FLO1 gene, which encodes a cell wall protein, is considered to play an important role in yeast flocculation, which is inhibited by mannose but not by glucose (mannose-specific flocculation). A new homologue of FLO1, named Lg-FLO1, was isolated from a flocculent bottom-fermenting yeast strain in which flocculation is inhibited by both mannose and glucose (mannose/glucose-specific flocculation). In order to confirm that both FLO1 and Lg-FLO1 are involved in the yeast flocculation phenomenon, the FLO1 gene in the mannose-specific flocculation strain was replaced by the Lg-FLO1 gene. The transformant in which the Lg-FLO1 gene was incorporated showed the same flocculation phenotype as the mannose/glucose-specific flocculation strain, suggesting that the FLO1 and Lg-FLO1 genes encode mannose-specific and mannose/glucose-specific lectin-like proteins, respectively. Moreover, the sugar recognition sites for these sugars were identified by expressing chimeric FLO1 and Lg-FLO1 genes. It was found that the region from amino acid 196 to amino acid 240 of both gene products is important for flocculation phenotypes. Further mutational analysis of this region suggested that Thr-202 in the Lg-Flo1 protein and Trp-228 in the Flo1 protein are involved in sugar recognition.
Saccharomyces cerevisiae “flor” yeasts have the ability to form a buoyant biofilm at the air-liquid interface of wine. The formation of biofilm, also called velum, depends on FLO11 gene length and expression. FLO11 encodes a cell wall mucin-like glycoprotein with a highly O-glycosylated central domain and an N-terminal domain that mediates homotypic adhesion between cells. In the present study, we tested previously known antimicrobial peptides with different mechanisms of antimicrobial action for their effect on the viability and ability to form biofilm of S. cerevisiae flor strains. We found that PAF26, a synthetic tryptophan-rich cationic hexapeptide that belongs to the class of antimicrobial peptides with cell-penetrating properties, but not other antimicrobial peptides, enhanced biofilm formation without affecting cell viability in ethanol-rich medium. The PAF26 biofilm enhancement required a functional FLO11 but was not accompanied by increased FLO11 expression. Moreover, fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry analyses showed that the PAF26 peptide binds flor yeast cells and that a flo11 gene knockout mutant lost the ability to bind PAF26 but not P113, a different cell-penetrating antifungal peptide, demonstrating that the FLO11 gene is selectively involved in the interaction of PAF26 with cells. Taken together, our data suggest that the cationic and hydrophobic PAF26 hexapeptide interacts with the hydrophobic and negatively charged cell wall, favoring Flo11p-mediated cell-to-cell adhesion and thus increasing biofilm biomass formation. The results are consistent with previous data that point to glycosylated mucin-like proteins at the fungal cell wall as potential interacting partners for antifungal peptides.
Candida albicans undergoes a morphological transition from yeast to hyphae in response to a variety of stimuli and growth conditions. We previously isolated a LisH domain containing transcription factor Flo8, which is essential for hyphal development in C. albicans. To search the putative binding partner of Flo8 in C. albicans, we identified C. albicans Mss11, a functional homolog of Saccharomyces cerevisiae Mss11, which also contains a LisH motif at its N terminus. C. albicans Mss11 can interact with Flo8 via the LisH motif by in vivo coimmunoprecipitation. The results of a chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assay showed that more Mss11 and Flo8 proteins bound to the upstream activating sequence region of HWP1 promoter in hyphal cells than in yeast cells, and the increased binding of each of these two proteins responding to hyphal induction was dependent on the other. Overexpression of MSS11 enhanced filamentous growth. Deletion of MSS11 caused a profound defect in hyphal development and the induction of hypha-specific genes. Our data suggest that Mss11 functions as an activator in hyphal development of C. albicans. Furthermore, overexpression of FLO8 can bypass the requirement of Mss11 in filamentous formation, whereas overexpression of MSS11 failed to promote hyphae growth in flo8 mutants. In summary, we show that the expression level of MSS11 increases during hyphal induction, and the enhanced expression of MSS11 may contribute to cooperative binding of Mss11 and Flo8 to the HWP1 promoter.
Diploid yeast develop pseudohyphae in response to nitrogen starvation, while haploid yeast produce invasive filaments which penetrate the agar in rich medium. We have identified a gene, FLO11, that encodes a cell wall protein which is critically required for both invasion and pseudohyphae formation in response to nitrogen starvation. FLO11 encodes a cell surface flocculin with a structure similar to the class of yeast serine/threonine-rich GPI-anchored cell wall proteins. Cells of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain Σ1278b with deletions of FLO11 do not form pseudohyphae as diploids nor invade agar as haploids. In rich media, FLO11 is regulated by mating type; it is expressed in haploid cells but not in diploids. Upon transfer to nitrogen starvation media, however, FLO11 transcripts accumulate in diploid cells, but not in haploids. Overexpression of FLO11 in diploid cells, which are otherwise not invasive, enables them to invade agar. Thus, the mating type repression of FLO11 in diploids grown in rich media suffices to explain the inability of these cells to invade. The promoter of FLO11 contains a consensus binding sequence for Ste12p and Tec1p, proteins known to cooperatively activate transcription of Ty1 elements and the TEC1 gene during development of pseudohyphae. Yeast with a deletion of STE12 does not express FLO11 transcripts, indicating that STE12 is required for FLO11 expression. These ste12-deletion strains also do not invade agar. However, the ability to invade can be restored by overexpressing FLO11. Activation of FLO11 may thus be the primary means by which Ste12p and Tec1p cause invasive growth.
Saccharomyces cerevisiae generates complex biofilms called mats on low-density (0.3%) agar plates. The mats can be morphologically divided into two regions: (i) hub, the interior region characterized by the presence of wrinkles and channels, and (ii) rim, the smooth periphery. Formation of mats depends on the adhesin Flo11p, which is also required for invasive growth, a phenotype in which the S. cerevisiae yeasts grow as chains of cells that dig into standard-density (2%) agar plates. Although both invasive growth and mat formation depend on Flo11p, mutations that perturb the multivesicular body (MVB) protein sorting pathway inhibit mat formation in a FLO11-independent manner. These mutants, represented by vps27Δ, disrupt mat formation but do not affect invasive growth, FLO11 gene or protein expression, or Flo11p localization. In contrast, an overlapping subset of MVB mutants (represented by ESCRT [endosomal sorting complex required for transport] complex genes such as VPS25) interrupt the Rim101p signal transduction cascade, which is required for FLO11 expression, and thus block both invasive growth and mat formation. In addition, this report shows that mature Flo11p is covalently associated with the cell wall and shed into the extracellular matrix of the growing mat.
Mat formation in the bakers' yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a surface-associated phenomenon in which yeast cells spread over the surface of a low-density agar petri plate as a complex film. This spreading growth occurs by sliding motility and is dependent on the adhesion protein (adhesin) Flo11p. In order to identify molecular pathways that govern mat formation, whole-genome transcriptional profiling was used to compare cells growing as a mat to cells growing in a suspension culture (planktonic cells). This analysis revealed that S. cerevisiae upregulates a subset of genes in response to growth on a surface. These genes included the INO1 gene, which encodes the myo-inositol-1-phosphate synthase, which carries out the rate-limiting step in inositol biosynthesis. Further inquiry revealed that a transcription factor that controls INO1 expression, called Opi1p, participates in the regulation of mat formation. Opi1p appears to modulate mat formation by influencing the expression of FLO11. The opi1Δ mutant was found to exhibit reduced FLO11 levels. Consequently, the opi1Δ mutant perturbs the FLO11-dependent phenotype of invasive growth. The opi1Δ mutant's defects in mat formation and invasive growth are dependent on the transcriptional activator Ino2p. These results indicate that Opi1p affects mat formation and invasive growth by participating in the regulation of FLO11.
In baker's yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, cell-cell and cell-surface adhesion are required for haploid invasive growth and diploid pseudohyphal development. These morphogenetic events are induced by starvation for glucose or nitrogen and require the cell surface protein Flo11p. We show that amino acid starvation is a nutritional signal that activates adhesive growth and expression of FLO11 in both haploid and diploid strains in the presence of glucose and ammonium, known suppressors of adhesion. Starvation-induced adhesive growth requires Flo11p and is under control of Gcn2p and Gcn4p, elements of the general amino acid control system. Tpk2p and Flo8p, elements of the cAMP pathway, are also required for activation but not Ste12p and Tec1p, known targets of the mitogen-activated protein kinase cascade. Promoter analysis of FLO11 identifies one upstream activation sequence (UASR) and one repression site (URS) that confer regulation by amino acid starvation. Gcn4p is not required for regulation of the UASR by amino acid starvation, but seems to be indirectly required to overcome the negative effects of the URS on FLO11 transcription. In addition, Gcn4p controls expression of FLO11 by affecting two basal upstream activation sequences (UASB). In summary, our study suggests that amino acid starvation is a nutritional signal that triggers a Gcn4p-controlled signaling pathway, which relieves repression of FLO11 gene expression and induces adhesive growth.
The 5′ upstream regions of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae glucoamylase-encoding genes STA1 to -3 and of the MUC1 (or FLO11) gene, which is critical for pseudohyphal development, invasive growth, and flocculation, are almost identical, and the genes are coregulated to a large extent. Besides representing the largest yeast promoters identified to date, these regions are of particular interest from both a functional and an evolutionary point of view. Transcription of the genes indeed seems to be dependent on numerous transcription factors which integrate the information of a complex network of signaling pathways, while the very limited sequence differences between them should allow the study of promoter evolution on a molecular level. To investigate the transcriptional regulation, we compared the transcription levels conferred by the STA2 and MUC1 promoters under various growth conditions. Our data show that transcription of both genes responded similarly to most environmental signals but also indicated significant divergence in some aspects. We identified distinct areas within the promoters that show specific responses to the activating effect of Flo8p, Msn1p (or Mss10p, Fup1p, or Phd2p), and Mss11p as well as to carbon catabolite repression. We also identified the STA10 repressive effect as the absence of Flo8p, a transcriptional activator of flocculation genes in S. cerevisiae.
The Snf1 protein kinase of Saccharomyces cerevisiae is important for many cellular responses to glucose limitation, including haploid invasive growth. We show here that Snf1 regulates transcription of FLO11, which encodes a cell surface glycoprotein required for invasive growth. We further show that Nrg1 and Nrg2, two repressor proteins that interact with Snf1, function as negative regulators of invasive growth and as repressors of FLO11. We also examined the role of Snf1, Nrg1, and Nrg2 in two other Flo11-dependent processes. Mutations affected the initiation of biofilm formation, which is glucose sensitive, but also affected diploid pseudohyphal differentiation, thereby unexpectedly implicating Snf1 in a response to nitrogen limitation. Deletion of the NRG1 and NRG2 genes suppressed the defects of a snf1 mutant in all of these processes. These findings suggest a model in which the Snf1 kinase positively regulates Flo11-dependent developmental events by antagonizing Nrg-mediated repression of the FLO11 gene.
The budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, responds to various environmental cues by invoking specific adaptive mechanisms for their survival. Under nitrogen limitation, S. cerevisiae undergoes a dimorphic filamentous transition called pseudohyphae, which helps the cell to forage for nutrients and reach an environment conducive for growth. This transition is governed by a complex network of signaling pathways, namely cAMP-PKA, MAPK and TOR, which controls the transcriptional activation of FLO11, a flocculin gene that encodes a cell wall protein. However, little is known about how these pathways co-ordinate to govern the conversion of nutritional availability into gene expression. Here, we have analyzed an integrative network comprised of cAMP-PKA, MAPK and TOR pathways with respect to the availability of nitrogen source using experimental and steady state modeling approach. Our experiments demonstrate that the steady state expression of FLO11 was bistable over a range of inducing ammonium sulphate concentration based on the preculturing condition. We also show that yeast switched from FLO11 expression to accumulation of trehalose, a STRE response controlled by a transcriptional activator Msn2/4, with decrease in the inducing concentration to complete starvation. Steady state analysis of the integrative network revealed the relationship between the environment, signaling cascades and the expression of FLO11. We demonstrate that the double negative feedback loop in TOR pathway can elicit a bistable response, to differentiate between vegetative growth, filamentous growth and STRE response. Negative feedback on TOR pathway function to restrict the expression of FLO11 under nitrogen starved condition and also with re-addition of nitrogen to starved cells. In general, we show that these global signaling pathways respond with specific sensitivity to regulate the expression of FLO11 under nitrogen limitation. The holistic steady state modeling approach of the integrative network revealed how the global signaling pathways could differentiate between multiple phenotypes.
In many industrial fermentation processes, the Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast should ideally meet two partially conflicting demands. During fermentation, a high suspended yeast count is required to maintain a satisfactory rate of fermentation, while at completion, efficient settling is desired to enhance product clarification and recovery. In most fermentation industries, currently used starter cultures do not satisfy this ideal, probably because nonflocculent yeast strains were selected to avoid fermentation problems. In this paper, we assess molecular strategies to optimize the flocculation behavior of S. cerevisiae. For this purpose, the chromosomal copies of three dominant flocculation genes, FLO1, FLO5, and FLO11, of the haploid nonflocculent, noninvasive, and non-flor-forming S. cerevisiae FY23 strain were placed under the transcriptional control of the promoters of the ADH2 and HSP30 genes. All six promoter-gene combinations resulted in specific flocculation behaviors in terms of timing and intensity. The strategy resulted in stable expression patterns providing a platform for the direct comparison and assessment of the specific impact of the expression of individual dominant FLO genes with regard to cell wall characteristics, such as hydrophobicity, biofilm formation, and substrate adhesion properties. The data also clearly demonstrate that the flocculation behavior of yeast strains can be tightly controlled and fine-tuned to satisfy specific industrial requirements.
Cell aggregation in unicellular organisms, induced by either cell non-sexual adhesion to yield flocs and biofilm, or pheromone-driving sexual conjugation is of great significance in cellular stress response, medicine, and brewing industries. Most current literatures have focused on one form of cell aggregation termed flocculation and its major molecular determinants, the flocculation (FLO) family genes. Here, we implemented a map-based approach for dissecting the molecular basis of non-sexual cell aggregation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Genome-wide mapping has identified four major quantitative trait loci (QTL) underlying nature variation in the cell aggregation phenotype. High-resolution mapping following up with knockout and allele replacement experiments resolved the QTL into the underlying genes (AMN1, RGA1, FLO1, and FLO8) or even into the causative nucleotide. Genetic variation in the QTL genes can explain up to 46% of phenotypic variation of this trait. Of these genes, AMN1 plays the leading role, differing from the FLO family members, in regulating expression of cell clumping phenotype through inducing cell segregation defect. These findings provide novel insights into the molecular mechanism of how cell aggregation is regulated in budding yeast, and the data will be directly implicated to understand the molecular basis and evolutionary implications of cell aggregation in other fungus species.
cell aggregation; map-based cloning; QTL analysis; Saccharomyces cerevisiae
The occurrence of highly conserved amyloid-forming sequences in Candida albicans Als proteins (H. N. Otoo et al., Eukaryot. Cell 7:776–782, 2008) led us to search for similar sequences in other adhesins from C. albicans and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The β-aggregation predictor TANGO found highly β-aggregation-prone sequences in almost all yeast adhesins. These sequences had an unusual amino acid composition: 77% of their residues were β-branched aliphatic amino acids Ile, Thr, and Val, which is more than 4-fold greater than their prevalence in the S. cerevisiae proteome. High β-aggregation potential peptides from S. cerevisiae Flo1p and C. albicans Eap1p rapidly formed insoluble amyloids, as determined by Congo red absorbance, thioflavin T fluorescence, and fiber morphology. As examples of the amyloid-forming ability of the native proteins, soluble glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-less fragments of C. albicans Als5p and S. cerevisiae Muc1p also formed amyloids within a few days under native conditions at nM concentrations. There was also evidence of amyloid formation in vivo: the surfaces of cells expressing wall-bound Als1p, Als5p, Muc1p, or Flo1p were birefringent and bound the fluorescent amyloid-reporting dye thioflavin T. Both of these properties increased upon aggregation of the cells. In addition, amyloid binding dyes strongly inhibited aggregation and flocculation. The results imply that amyloid formation is an intrinsic property of yeast cell adhesion proteins from many gene families and that amyloid formation is an important component of cellular aggregation mediated by these proteins.
The transcription factor Flo8 is essential for filamentous growth in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and is regulated under the cAMP/protein kinase A (PKA) pathway. To determine whether a similar pathway/regulation exists in Candida albicans, we have cloned C. albicans FLO8 by its ability to complement S. cerevisiae flo8. Deleting FLO8 in C. albicans blocked hyphal development and hypha-specific gene expression. The flo8/flo8 mutant is avirulent in a mouse model of systemic infection. Genome-wide transcription profiling of efg1/efg1 and flo8/flo8 using a C. albicans DNA microarray suggests that Flo8 controls subsets of Efg1-regulated genes. Most of these genes are hypha specific, including HGC1 and IHD1. We also show that Flo8 interacts with Efg1 in yeast and hyphal cells by in vivo immunoprecipitation. Similar to efg1/efg1, flo8/flo8 and cdc35/cdc35 show enhanced hyphal growth under an embedded growth condition. Our results suggest that Flo8 may function downstream of the cAMP/PKA pathway, and together with Efg1, regulates the expression of hypha-specific genes and genes that are important for the virulence of C. albicans.
In the yeast Saccharomyces diastaticus, expression of the STA1 gene, which encodes an extracellular glucoamylase, is activated by the specific DNA-binding activators Flo8, Mss11, Ste12, and Tec1 and the Swi/Snf chromatin-remodeling complex. Here we show that Flo8 interacts physically and functionally with Mss11. Flo8 and Mss11 bind cooperatively to the inverted repeat sequence TTTGC-n-GCAAA (n = 97) in UAS1-2 of the STA1 promoter. In addition, Flo8 and Mss11 bind indirectly to UAS2-1 of the STA1 promoter by interacting with Ste12 and Tec1, which bind to the filamentation and invasion response element (FRE) in UAS2-1. Furthermore, our findings indicate that the Ste12, Tec1, Flo8, and Mss11 activators and the Swi/Snf complex bind sequentially to the STA1 promoter, as follows: Ste12 and Tec1 bind first to the FRE, whereby they recruit the Swi/Snf complex to the STA1 promoter. Next, the Swi/Snf complex enhances Flo8 and Mss11 binding to UAS1-2. In the final step, Flo8 and Mss11 directly promote association of RNA polymerase II with the STA1 promoter to activate STA1 expression. In the absence of glucose, the levels of Flo8 and Tec1 are greatly increased, whereas the abundances of two repressors, Nrg1 and Sfl1, are reduced, suggesting that the balance of transcriptional regulators may be important for determining activation or repression of STA1 expression.
Epigenetic switches encode their state information either locally, often via covalent modification of DNA or histones, or globally, usually in the level of a trans-regulatory factor. Here we examine how the regulation of cis-encoded epigenetic switches controls the extent of heterogeneity in gene expression, which is ultimately tied to phenotypic diversity in a population. We show that two copies of the FLO11 locus in Saccharomyces cerevisiae switch between a silenced and competent promoter state in a random and independent fashion, implying that the molecular event leading to the transition occurs locally at the promoter, in cis. We further quantify the effect of trans regulators both on the slow epigenetic transitions between a silenced and competent promoter state and on the fast promoter transitions associated with conventional regulation of FLO11. We find different classes of regulators affect epigenetic, conventional, or both forms of regulation. Distributing kinetic control of epigenetic silencing and conventional gene activation offers cells flexibility in shaping the distribution of gene expression and phenotype within a population.
In an uncertain and changing world, microbial populations with a diverse range of phenotypes may outperform a monolithic population. Over many generations, mutations can lead to genetic diversity in a population. However, microbes have strategies to generate such diversity quickly. For example, if multiple genes switch ON and OFF slowly, randomly, and independently of each other, then a large combination of gene expression states, and hence phenotypes, are possible. The different gene expression states do not involve changes in DNA sequence and are therefore epigenetically inherited. We show that the two copies of the FLO11 gene in S. cerevisiae can switch ON and OFF slowly and independently. In addition, we reveal a simple regulatory strategy by which cells can control the proportion of cells in different gene expression states. Because FLO11 encodes a cell-wall protein responsible for mediating cell–cell and cell–surface interactions, this control might literally allow natural populations to have a controllable fraction of cells “stick around” while the other fraction is easily washed away.
Adherence to the endothelial cell lining of the vasculature is probably a critical step in the egress of Candida albicans from the intravascular compartment. To identify potential adhesins that mediate the attachment of this organism to endothelial cells, a genomic library from C. albicans was used to transform a nonadherent strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The population of transformed yeasts was enriched for highly adherent clones by repeated passages over endothelial cells. One clone which exhibited a fivefold increase in endothelial cell adherence, compared with S. cerevisiae transformed with vector alone, was identified. This organism also flocculated. The candidal DNA fragment within this adherent/flocculent organism was found to contain a single 1.8-kb open reading frame, which was designated CAD1. It was found to be identical to AAF1. The predicted protein encoded by CAD1/AAF1 contained features suggestive of a regulatory factor. Consistent with this finding, immunoelectron microscopy revealed that CAD1/AAF1 localized to the cytoplasm and nucleus but not the cell wall or plasma membrane of the transformed yeasts. Because yeasts transformed with CAD1/AAF1 both flocculated and exhibited increased endothelial cell adherence, the relationship between adherence and flocculation was examined. S. cerevisiae expressing either of two flocculation phenotypes, Flo1 or NewFlo, adhered to endothelial cells as avidly as did yeasts expressing CAD1/AAF1. Inhibition studies revealed that the flocculation phenotype induced by CAD1/AAF1 was similar to Flo1. Thus, CAD1/AAF1 probably encodes a regulatory protein that stimulates endothelial cell adherence in S. cerevisiae by inducing a flocculation phenotype. Whether CAD1/AAF1 contributes to the adherence of C. albicans to endothelial cells remains to be determined.
The Mediator complex is an essential co-regulator of RNA polymerase II that is conserved throughout eukaryotes. Here we present the first study of Mediator in the pathogenic fungus Candida albicans. We focused on the Middle domain subunit Med31, the Head domain subunit Med20, and Srb9/Med13 from the Kinase domain. The C. albicans Mediator shares some roles with model yeasts Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Schizosaccharomyces pombe, such as functions in the response to certain stresses and the role of Med31 in the expression of genes regulated by the activator Ace2. The C. albicans Mediator also has additional roles in the transcription of genes associated with virulence, for example genes related to morphogenesis and gene families enriched in pathogens, such as the ALS adhesins. Consistently, Med31, Med20, and Srb9/Med13 contribute to key virulence attributes of C. albicans, filamentation, and biofilm formation; and ALS1 is a biologically relevant target of Med31 for development of biofilms. Furthermore, Med31 affects virulence of C. albicans in the worm infection model. We present evidence that the roles of Med31 and Srb9/Med13 in the expression of the genes encoding cell wall adhesins are different between S. cerevisiae and C. albicans: they are repressors of the FLO genes in S. cerevisiae and are activators of the ALS genes in C. albicans. This suggests that Mediator subunits regulate adhesion in a distinct manner between these two distantly related fungal species.
In this study, we compared the roles of Mediator, a central transcriptional regulator in all eukaryotes, between the pathogenic fungus Candida albicans and the non-pathogenic model yeasts Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Schizosaccharomyces pombe. We discovered that Mediator has both shared and species-specific functions in the three yeasts. The shared functions include regulation of genes required for cell separation after cell division by the Middle domain subunit Med31. The species-specific functions include transcriptional regulation of the cell wall adhesins, which play key roles in the pathogenesis of C. albicans. In C. albicans, the Mediator subunits Med31, Med20, and Srb9/Med13 are activators of the ALS cell wall adhesins. In S. cerevisiae, our results and previous reports suggest an opposite, repressive role in the expression of the FLO genes and in adhesion-dependent phenotypes. The C. albicans Med31, Med20, and Srb9/Med13 contribute to processes highly important for disease: the switch to filamentous morphology and biofilm formation. Moreover, Med31 impacts on virulence in an invertebrate infection model. Our study has implications for understanding the regulation over virulence-associated genes in C. albicans and the roles of a key transcriptional regulator in this process.
The recessive lethal mutation flotte lotte (flo) disrupts development of the zebrafish digestive system and other tissues. We show that flo encodes the ortholog of Mel-28/Elys, a highly conserved gene that has been shown to be required for nuclear integrity in worms and nuclear pore complex (NPC) assembly in amphibian and mammalian cells. Maternal elys expression sustains zebrafish flo mutants to larval stages when cells in proliferative tissues that lack nuclear pores undergo cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. p53 mutation rescues apoptosis in the flo retina and optic tectum, but not in the intestine, where the checkpoint kinase Chk2 is activated. Chk2 inhibition and replication stress induced by DNA synthesis inhibitors were lethal to flo larvae. By contrast, flo mutants were not sensitized to agents that cause DNA double strand breaks, thus showing that loss of Elys disrupts responses to selected replication inhibitors. Elys binds Mcm2-7 complexes derived from Xenopus egg extracts. Mutation of elys reduced chromatin binding of Mcm2, but not binding of Mcm3 or Mcm4 in the flo intestine. These in vivo data indicate a role for Elys in Mcm2-chromatin interactions. Furthermore, they support a recently proposed model in which replication origins licensed by excess Mcm2-7 are required for the survival of human cells exposed to replication stress.
DNA replication is a complex process that requires activation of cell cycle checkpoints and DNA repair pathways. Genetic analyses in fungi have suggested that nucleoporins, the proteins that make up the nuclear pore complex (NPC), play a role in the cellular response to agents that disrupt cell proliferation or damage DNA. Here we show that mutation of the Elys nucleoporin causes widespread apoptosis in the intestine and other tissues of zebrafish flotte lotte (flo) mutants. Intestinal apoptosis occurs in the absence of the DNA damage marker γH2X, and levels of chromatin bound Mcm2, a component of the DNA replication helicase, were also reduced in flo mutants. These findings suggested that flo intestinal cells cannot repair endogenous replication errors. Consistent with this idea, flo mutants were highly sensitized to treatment with DNA replication inhibitors such as hydroxyurea, UV irradiation, or cisplatin, but not agents that cause DNA double strand breaks, such as γ-irradiation or camptothecin. These data point to a conserved role for nucleoporins in the cellular response to replication stress in eukaryote cells.