The pacemaker of the Neurospora circadian clock is composed of a transcriptional-translational feedback loop that has been intensively studied during the last two decades. Invaluable information has been derived from measuring the expression of the central clock component frequency (frq) under liquid culture conditions. Direct analyses of frq mRNA and protein levels on solid media -where overt circadian rhythms are normally visualized- have not been trivial due to technical issues. Nevertheless, a frq promoter-luciferase reporter has recently allowed the study of frq transcription under these conditions. It is known that FRQ undergoes extensive posttranslational modifications, and changes in its levels provide important information regarding the clockworks. Here we describe a FRQ-Luciferase translational fusion reporter that directly tracks FRQ levels, granting access to a better understanding and analysis of FRQ dynamics in vivo. More generally the method, which allows the investigator to follow continuous gene expression in real time in a spatially and temporally unrestricted manner, should be widely applicable to analyses of environmentally and developmentally regulated gene expression in ascomycete filamentous fungi as well as in basidiomycetes.
Neurospora crassa; circadian; FREQUENCY; luciferase; bioluminescence
We have inserted a histone H1-GFP fusion gene adjacent to three loci on different chromosomes of Neurospora crassa and made mating pairs in which a wild type version of GFP is crossed to one with a mutation in the 5′ end of GFP. The loci are his-3, am and his-5, chosen because recombination mechanisms appear to differ between his-3 and am, and because crossing over adjacent to his-5, like his-3, is regulated by rec-2. At his-3, the frequencies of crossing over between GFP and the centromere and of conversion of 5′GFP to GFP+ are comparable to those obtained by classical recombination assays, as is the effect of rec-2 on these frequencies, suggesting that our system does not alter the process of recombination. At each locus we have obtained sufficient data, on both gene conversion and crossing over, to be able to assess the effect of deletion of any gene involved in recombination. In addition, crosses between a GFP+ strain and one with normal sequence at all three loci have been used to measure the interval to the centromere and to show that GFP experiences gene conversion with this system. Since any gene expressed in meiosis is silenced in Neurospora if hemizygous, any of our GFP+ strains can be used as a quick screen to determine if a gene deleted by the Neurospora Genome Project is involved in crossing over or gene conversion.
Meiotic Recombination; Gene Conversion; Crossover; GFP; Octad; Tetrad
The impact of loci that determine sexual identity upon the asexual, dominant stage of fungal life history has been well studied. To investigate their impact, expression differences between strains of different mating type during asexual development were assayed, with RNA sampled from otherwise largely isogenic mat A and mat a strains of Neurospora crassaat early, middle, and late clonal stages of development. We observed significant differences in overall gene expression between mating types across clonal development, especially at late development stages. The expression levels of mating-type genes and pheromone genes were assayed by reverse transcription and quantitative PCR, revealing expression of pheromone and receptor genes instrains of both mating types in all development stages, and revealing that mating type (mat) genes were increasingly expressed over the course of asexual development. Interestingly, among differentially expressed genes, the mat A genotype more frequently exhibited a higher expression level than mat a, and demonstrated greater transcriptional regulatory dynamism. Significant up-regulation of expression was observed for many late light-responsive genes at late asexual development stages. Further investigation of the impact of light and the roles of light response genes in asexual development of both mating types are warranted.
mating type; pheromone; transcription; light; conidiation; microarray
•Reporters for dissection of N-glycosylation in Candida albicans.•Detection of glycosylation at the single site on epitope-tagged reporter.•Reporter faithfully reflects glycosylation defects in cell wall mutants.
A large proportion of Candida albicans cell surface proteins are decorated post-translationally by glycosylation. Indeed N-glycosylation is critical for cell wall biogenesis in this major fungal pathogen and for its interactions with host cells. A detailed understanding of N-glycosylation will yield deeper insights into host-pathogen interactions. However, the analysis of N-glycosylation is extremely challenging because of the complexity and heterogeneity of these structures. Therefore, in an attempt to reduce this complexity and facilitate the analysis of N-glycosylation, we have developed new synthetic C. albicans reporters that carry a single N-linked glycosylation site derived from Saccharomyces cerevisiae Suc2. These glycosylation reporters, which carry C. albicans Hex1 or Sap2 signal sequences plus carboxy-terminal FLAG3 and His6 tags, were expressed in C. albicans from the ACT1 promoter. The reporter proteins were successfully secreted and hyperglycosylated by C. albicans cells, and their outer chain glycosylation was dependent on Och1 and Pmr1, which are required for N-mannan synthesis, but not on Mnt1 and Mnt2 which are only required for O-mannosylation. These reporters are useful tools for the experimental dissection of N-glycosylation and other related processes in C. albicans, such as secretion.
Candida albicans; Glycosylation; Cell wall; Glycosylation reporter
Fungal fruiting body size and form are influenced by the ecology of the species, including diverse environmental stimuli. Accordingly, nutritional resources available to the fungus during development can be vital to successful production of fruiting bodies. To investigate the effect of nutrition, perithecial development of N. crassa was induced on two different media, a chemically sparsely nutritive Synthetic Crossing Medium (SCM) and a natural Carrot Agar (CA). Protoperithecia were collected before crossing, and perithecia were collected at 2, 24, 48, 72, 96, 120, and at full maturity 144 hours after crossing. No differences in fruiting body morphology were observed between the two media at any time point. A circuit of microarray hybridizations comparing cDNA from all neighboring stages was performed. For a majority of differentially expressed genes, expression was higher in SCM than in CA, and expression of core metabolic genes was particularly affected. Effects of nutrition were highest in magnitude before crossing, lowering in magnitude during early perithecial development. Interestingly, metabolic effects of the media were also large in magnitude during late perithecial development, at which stage the lower expression in CA presumably reflected the continued intake of diverse complex initial compounds, diminishing the need for expression of anabolic pathways. However, for genes with key regulatory roles in sexual development, including pheromone precursor ccg-4 and poi2, expression patterns were similar between treatments. When possible, a common nutritional environment is ideal for comparing transcriptional profiles between different fungi. Nevertheless, the observed consistency of the developmental program across media, despite considerable metabolic differentiation is reassuring. This result facilitates comparative studies that will require different nutritional resources for sexual development in different fungi.
perithecial development; medium impact; transcription; microarray
► Constitutive phenotype in nitrate-reductase mutants depends on nitrate transporters. ► Intracellular nitrate derives from media components. ► Internal nitrate generation from nitric oxide. ► Nitrate transporters are functional in cells lacking nitrate reductase.
In fungi, transcriptional activation of genes involved in NO3- assimilation requires the presence of an inducer (nitrate or nitrite) and low intracellular concentrations of the pathway products ammonium or glutamine. In Aspergillus nidulans, the two transcription factors NirA and AreA act synergistically to mediate nitrate/nitrite induction and nitrogen metabolite derepression, respectively. In all studied fungi and in plants, mutants lacking nitrate reductase (NR) activity express nitrate-metabolizing enzymes constitutively without the addition of inducer molecules. Based on their work in A. nidulans, Cove and Pateman proposed an “autoregulation control” model for the synthesis of nitrate metabolizing enzymes in which the functional nitrate reductase molecule would act as co-repressor in the absence and as co-inducer in the presence of nitrate. However, NR mutants could simply show “pseudo-constitutivity” due to induction by nitrate which accumulates over time in NR-deficient strains. Here we examined this possibility using strains which lack flavohemoglobins (fhbs), and are thus unable to generate nitrate internally, in combination with nitrate transporter mutations (nrtA, nrtB) and a GFP-labeled NirA protein. Using different combinations of genotypes we demonstrate that nitrate transporters are functional also in NR null mutants and show that the constitutive phenotype of NR mutants is not due to nitrate accumulation from intracellular sources but depends on the activity of nitrate transporters. However, these transporters are not required for nitrate signaling because addition of external nitrate (10 mM) leads to standard induction of nitrate assimilatory genes in the nitrate transporter double mutants. We finally show that NR does not regulate NirA localization and activity, and thus the autoregulation model, in which NR would act as a co-repressor of NirA in the absence of nitrate, is unlikely to be correct. Results from this study instead suggest that transporter-mediated NO3- accumulation in NR deficient mutants, originating from traces of nitrate in the media, is responsible for the constitutive expression of NirA-regulated genes, and the associated phenotype is thus termed “pseudo-constitutive”.
Nitrate cluster; Pseudo-constitutive; Nitrate reductase; NirA, AreA; Nitric oxide; Nitrate transporter; Gene expression
Maintenance of cation homeostasis is essential for survival of all living organisms in their biological niches. It is also important for the survival of human pathogenic fungi in the host, where cation concentrations and pH will vary depending on different anatomical sites. However, the exact role of diverse cation transporters and ion channels in virulence of fungal pathogens remains elusive. In this study we functionally characterized ENA1 and NHA1, encoding a putative Na+/ATPase and Na+/H+ antiporter, respectively, in Cryptococcus neoformans, a basidiomycete fungal pathogen which causes fatal meningoencephalitis. Expression of NHA1 and ENA1 is induced in response to salt and osmotic shock mainly in a Hog1-dependent manner. Phenotypic analysis of the ena1, nha1, and ena1 nha1 mutants revealed that Ena1 controls cellular levels of toxic cations, such as Na+ and Li+ whereas both Ena1 and Nha1 are important for controlling less toxic K+ ions. Under alkaline conditions, Ena1 was highly induced and required for growth in the presence of low levels of Na+ or K+ salt and Nha1 played a role in survival under K+ stress. In contrast, Nha1, but not Ena1, was essential for survival at acidic conditions (pH 4.5) under high K+ stress. In addition, Ena1 and Nha1 were required for maintenance of plasma membrane potential and stability, which appeared to modulate antifungal drug susceptibility. Perturbation of ENA1 and NHA1 enhanced capsule production and melanin synthesis. However, Nha1 was dispensable for virulence of C. neoformans although Ena1 was essential. In conclusion, Ena1 and Nha1 play redundant and discrete roles in cation homeostasis, pH regulation, membrane potential, and virulence in C. neoformans, suggesting that these transporters could be novel antifungal drug targets for treatment of cryptococcosis.
C. neoformans; Ena1; Nha1; cation transporters; antifungal drug
We recently established that antibody (Ab)-binding can induce gene expression changes in a serotype A strain (H99) of the pathogenic yeast, Cryptococcus neoformans. That study showed that monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) differing in epitope specificity and protective efficacy elicited differences in gene expression. Because many mAbs bind to serotypes A and D strains differently, we now investigate the binding of one mAb to two strains representing these serotypes. Cells of the serotype A strain H99 and the serotype D strain 24067 were incubated with near saturating concentrations of the IgG1 capsule-binding mAb 18B7 or MOPC, an irrelevant mAb matched control. Comparative immunofluorescence analysis of mAb 18B7 binding revealed that it bound closer to the cell wall in H99 than 24067, where it was associated with decreased or increased cell diameter, respectively. A comparison of encapsulated cell compressibility showed that strain 24067 was more compressible than that of strain H99. RNA was extracted and used for gene expression analysis using the C. neoformans JEC21 genomic microarray. After 1 h incubation with mAb 18B7, there were just 2 gene expression changes observed with strain 24067 or strain JEC21, unlike the 43 seen with strain H99. After 4 h incubation with mAb 18B7, there were 14 and 140 gene expression changes observed with strain 24067 and JEC21, respectively. Thus, C. neoformans strains differ both in the response and the time of response to mAb binding and these differences may reflect differences in the location of Ab binding, Ab-mediated changes in cell diameter and compressibility of the capsular polysaccharide.
mAb 18B7; Capsule; Gene expression profile; Microarray
The OS-pathway mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascade of Neurospora crassa is responsible for adaptation to osmotic stress. Activation of the MAPK, OS-2, leads to the transcriptional induction of many genes involved in the osmotic stress response. We previously demonstrated that there is a circadian rhythm in the phosphorylation of OS-2 under constant non-stress inducing conditions. Additionally, several osmotic stress-induced genes are known to be regulated by the circadian clock. Therefore, we investigated if rhythms in activation of OS-2 lead to circadian rhythms in other known stress responsive targets. Here we identify three more osmotic stress induced genes as rhythmic: cat-1, gcy-1, and gcy-3. These genes encode a catalase and two predicted glycerol dehydrogenases thought to be involved in the production of glycerol. Rhythms in these genes depend upon the oscillator component FRQ. To investigate how the circadian signal is propagated to these stress induced genes, we examined the role of the OS-responsive transcription factor, ASL-1, in mediating circadian gene expression. We find that while the asl-1 transcript is induced by several stresses including an osmotic shock, asl-1 mRNA accumulation is not rhythmic. However, we show that ASL-1 is required for generating normal circadian rhythms of some OS-pathway responsive transcripts (bli-3, ccg-1, cat-1, gcy-1 and gcy-3) in the absence of an osmotic stress. These data are consistent with the possibility that post-transcriptional regulation of ASL-1 by the rhythmically activated OS-2 MAPK could play a role in generating rhythms in downstream targets.
Neurospora crassa; Circadian output; MAPK pathway; ATF/CREB transcription factor; Osmotic stress; Oxidative stress
The lipid transporter Arv1 regulates sterol trafficking, and glycosylphosphatidylinositol and sphingolipid biosyntheses in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. ScArv1 contains an Arv1 homology domain (AHD) that is conserved at the amino acid level in the pathogenic fungal species, Candida albicans and Candida glabrata. Here we show S. cerevisiae cells lacking Arv1 are highly susceptible to antifungal drugs. In the presence of drug, Scarv1 cells are unable to induce ERG gene expression, have an altered pleiotrophic drug response, and are defective in multi-drug resistance efflux pump expression. All phenotypes are remediated by ectopic expression of CaARV1 or CgARV1. The AHDs of these pathogenic fungi are required for specific drug tolerance, demonstrating conservation of function. In order to understand how Arv1 regulates antifungal susceptibility, we examined sterol trafficking. CaARV1/CgARV1 expression suppressed the sterol trafficking defect of Scarv1 cells. Finally, we show that C. albicans arv1/arv1 cells are avirulent using a BALB/c disseminated mouse model. We suggest that overall cell survival in response to antifungal treatment requires the lipid transporter function of Arv1.
antifungal; Candida; virulence; sterol; Arv1; transcription; mycology; hyphae
An analysis of the time-dependent genetic response to the death-inducer staurosporine was performed in Neurospora crassa by transcriptional profiling. Staurosporine induced two major genes encoding an ABC transporter and a protein with similarity to regulatory subunits of potassium channels. The transcriptional response is dependent on the activity of a novel transcription factor. Deletion mutants in differentially expressed genes displayed altered sensitivity to staurosporine, underscoring significant proteins involved in the response to the drug. A null-mutant of the ABC transporter (abc3) is extremely sensitive to staurosporine, accumulates more staurosporine than the wild type strain and is defective in energy-dependent export of the drug, indicating that the ABC3 protein is the first described staurosporine transporter. It was located in the plasma membrane by immunofluorescence microscopy. The combination of inhibitors of ABC transporters or of potassium channels with staurosporine leads to an enhanced activity against N. crassa and pathogenic fungi paving the way to the development of more potent and specific antifungals. Our results highlight the general use of transcriptional profiling for the identification of novel proteins involved in cell death and their potential use as drug targets.
staurosporine; cell death; transcriptional profiling; ABC transporter; Neurospora crassa
An understanding of gene function often relies upon creating multiple kinds of alleles. Functional analysis in Candida albicans, a major fungal pathogen, has generally included characterization of mutant strains with insertion or deletion alleles and over-expression alleles. Here we use in C. albicans another type of allele that has been employed effectively in the model yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a “Decreased Abundance by mRNA Perturbation” (DAmP) allele (Yan et al., 2008). DAmP alleles are created systematically through replacement of 3′ noncoding regions with nonfunctional heterologous sequences, and thus are broadly applicable. We used a DAmP allele to probe the function of Sun41, a surface protein with roles in cell wall integrity, cell-cell adherence, hyphal formation, and biofilm formation that has been suggested as a possible therapeutic target (Firon et al., 2007; Hiller et al., 2007; Norice et al., 2007). A SUN41-DAmP allele results in approximately 10-fold reduced levels of SUN41 RNA, and yields intermediate phenotypes in most assays. We report that a sun41Δ/Δ mutant is defective in biofilm formation in vivo, and that the SUN41-DAmP allele complements that defect. This finding argues that Sun41 may not be an ideal therapeutic target for biofilm inhibition, since a 90% decrease in activity has little effect on biofilm formation in vivo. We anticipate that DAmP alleles of C. albicans genes will be informative for analysis of other prospective drug targets, including essential genes.
Candida albicans; DAmP; Biofilm; SUN41
► We show that pheromone receptors HPR1 and HPR2 are involved in ascosporogenesis in H. jecorina. ► Sequence variability in hpr2 can be used for phylogenetic analysis of closely related strains. ► Pheromone receptors are essential for female fertility and for mating to be successful. ► At least one receptor and its associate peptide pheromone is required. ► Regulation of the pheromone system is altered compared to a fertile wildtype in QM6a.
Discovery of sexual development in the ascomycete Trichoderma reesei (Hypocrea jecorina) as well as detection of a novel class of peptide pheromone precursors in this fungus indicates promising insights into its physiology and lifestyle. Here we investigated the role of the two pheromone receptors HPR1 and HPR2 in the H. jecorina pheromone-system.
We found that these pheromone receptors show an unexpectedly high genetic variability among H. jecorina strains. HPR1 and HPR2 confer female fertility in their cognate mating types (MAT1-1 or MAT1-2, respectively) and mediate induction of fruiting body development. One compatible pheromone precursor–pheromone receptor pair (hpr1–hpp1 or hpr2–ppg1) in mating partners was sufficient for sexual development. Additionally, pheromone receptors were essential for ascospore development, hence indicating their involvement in post-fertilisation events.
Neither pheromone precursor genes nor pheromone receptor genes of H. jecorina were transcribed in a strictly mating type dependent manner, but showed enhanced expression levels in the cognate mating type. In the presence of a mating partner under conditions favoring sexual development, transcript levels of pheromone precursors were significantly increased, while those of pheromone receptor genes do not show this trend. In the female sterile T. reesei strain QM6a, transcriptional responses of pheromone precursor and pheromone receptor genes to a mating partner were clearly altered compared to the female fertile wild-type strain CBS999.97. Consequently, a delayed and inappropriate response to the mating partner may be one aspect causing female sterility in QM6a.
Trichoderma reesei; Hypocrea jecorina; Sexual development; Pheromone receptors; Ascosporogenesis; Female sterility
In the United States, candidemia is one of the most common hospital-acquired infections and is estimated to cause 10,000 deaths per year. The species Candida albicans is responsible for the majority of these cases. As C. albicans is capable of developing resistance against the currently available drugs, understanding the molecular basis of drug resistance, finding new cellular targets, and further understanding the overall mechanism of C. albicans pathogenesis are important goals. To study this pathogen it is advantageous to manipulate its genome. Numerous strategies of C. albicans gene manipulation have been introduced. This review evaluates a majority of these strategies and should be a helpful guide for researchers to identify gene targeting strategies to suit their requirements.
Pathogenic fungi; Candida albicans; gene manipulation; selectable marker; homologous recombination
Candida albicans is an opportunistic pathogen and is recognised and phagocytosed by macrophages. Using live-cell imaging, non-lytic expulsion/exocytosis of C. albicans from macrophages is demonstrated for the first time. Following complete expulsion, both the phagocyte and pathogen remain intact and viable. Partial engulfment of hyphal C. albicans without macrophage lysis is also demonstrated. These observations underpin the complexity of interactions between C. albicans and innate immune cells.
Candida albicans; Macrophage; Phagocytosis; Innate immunology; Fungal infection
► First demonstration of post-mitotic fusion of macrophages infected with Candida albicans. ► Post-mitotic fusion was attributed to C. albicans hyphae but not yeast form cells. ► Post-mitotic fusion may inhibit macrophage proliferation and the formation of new uninfected phagocytes.
The pathogenicity of the opportunistic human fungal pathogen Candida albicans depends on its ability to inhibit effective destruction by host phagocytes. Using live cell video microscopy, we show here for the first time that C. albicans inhibits cell division in macrophages undergoing mitosis. Inhibition of macrophage cell division is dependent on the ability of C. albicans to form hyphae, as it is rarely observed following phagocytosis of UV-killed or morphogenesis-defective mutant Candida. Interestingly, failed cell division following phagocytosis of hyphal C. albicans is surprisingly common, and leads to the formation of large multinuclear macrophages. This raises question as to whether inhibition of macrophage cell division is another virulence attribute of C. albicans or enables host macrophages to contain the pathogen.
Candida albicans; Macrophage; Phagocytosis; Mitosis; Innate immunology
Genome rearrangements, a common feature of Candida albicans isolates, are often associated with the acquisition of antifungal drug resistance. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, perturbations in the S-phase checkpoints result in the same sort of Gross Chromosomal Rearrangements (GCRs) observed in C. albicans. Several proteins are involved in the S. cerevisiae cell cycle checkpoints, including Mec1p, a protein kinase of the PIKK (phosphatidyl inositol 3-kinase-like kinase) family and the central player in the DNA damage checkpoint. Sgs1p, the ortholog of BLM, the Bloom’s syndrome gene, is a RecQ-related DNA helicase; cells from BLM patients are characterized by an increase in genome instability. Yeast strains bearing deletions in MEC1 or SGS1 are viable (in contrast to the inviability seen with loss of MEC1 in S. cerevisiae) but the different deletion mutants have significantly different phenotypes. The mec1Δ/Δ colonies have a wild-type colony morphology, while the sgs1Δ/Δ mutants are slow-growing, producing wrinkled colonies with pseudohyphal-like cells. The mec1Δ/Δ mutants are only sensitive to ethylmethane sulfonate (EMS), methylmethane sulfonate (MMS), and hydroxyurea (HU) but the sgs1Δ/Δ mutants exhibit a high sensitivity to all DNA-damaging agents tested. In an assay for chromosome 1 integrity, the mec1Δ/Δ mutants exhibit an increase in genome instability; no change was observed in the sgs1Δ/Δ mutants. Finally, loss of MEC1 does not affect sensitivity to the antifungal drug fluconazole, while loss of SGS1 leads to an increased susceptibility to fluconazole. Neither deletion elevated the level of antifungal drug resistance acquisition.
MEC1; SGS1; Cell Cycle Checkpoint; Antifungal Drug Resistance; Genome Stability
Pheromones are ubiquitous from bacteria to mammals - a testament to their importance in regulating inter-cellular communication. In fungal species, they play a critical role in choreographing interactions between mating partners during the program of sexual reproduction. Here, we describe how fungal pheromones are synthesized, their interactions with G protein-coupled receptors, and the signals propagated by this interaction, using Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a reference point. Divergence from this model system is compared amongst the ascomycetes and basidiomycetes, which reveals the wealth of information that has been gleaned from studying pheromone-driven processes across a wide spectrum of the fungal kingdom.
GPCR; MAPK kinase; signal transduction; homothallic; heterothallic
► Longibrachiatum clade consists of at least 26 phylogenetic species. ► Many species are allopatric although sympatric species are also present. ► The majority of species lost their ability to sexual reproduction. ► The K/θ method is a useful measure to delineate species in the Longibrachiatum clade. ► The combination of the GCPSR and K/θ method gives the most adequate result for species delineation.
The phylogenetically most derived group of the genus Trichoderma – section Longibrachiatum, includes some of the most intensively studied species, such as the industrial cellulase producer T. reesei (teleomorph Hypocrea jecorina), or the facultative opportunistic human pathogens T. longibrachiatum and H. orientalis. At the same time, the phylogeny of this clade is only poorly understood. Here we used a collection of 112 strains representing all currently recognized species and isolates that were tentatively identified as members of the group, to analyze species diversity and molecular evolution. Bayesian phylogenetic analyses based on several unlinked loci in individual and concatenated datasets confirmed 13 previously described species and 3 previously recognized phylogenetic species all of which were not yet described formally. When the genealogical concordance criterion, the K/θ method and comparison of frequencies of pairwise nucleotide differences were applied to the data sample, 10 additional new phylogenetic species were recognized, seven of which consisted only of a single lineage. Our analysis thus identifies 26 putative species in section Longibrachiatum, what doubles the currently estimated taxonomic diversity of the group, and illustrates the power of combining genealogical concordance and population genetic analysis for dissecting species in a recently diverged group of fungal species.
Hypocrea; Speciation; Genealogical concordance; Phylogeny; 4× Rule; Biogeography
The genome sequencing of the fungus Aspergillus niger uncovered a large cache of genes encoding enzymes thought to be involved in the production of secondary metabolites yet to be identified. Identification and structural characterization of many of these predicted secondary metabolites are hampered by their low concentration relative to the known A. niger metabolites such as the naphtho-γ-pyrone family of polyketides. We deleted a nonreducing PKS gene in A. niger strain ATCC 11414, a daughter strain of A. niger ATCC strain 1015 whose genome was sequenced by the DOE Joint Genome Institute. This PKS encoding gene we name albA is a predicted ortholog of alb1 from Aspergillus fumigatus which is responsible for production of the naphtho-γ-pyrone precursor for the 1,8-dihydroxynaphthalene (DHN) melanin/spore pigment. Our results show that the A. nigeralbA PKS is responsible for both the production of the spore pigment precursor and a family of naphtho-γ-pyrones commonly found in significant quantity in A. niger culture extracts. The generation of an A. niger strain devoid of naphtho-γ-pyrones will greatly facilitate the elucidation of cryptic biosynthetic pathways in this organism.
Secondary Metabolism; Aspergillus niger; Natural Products; Genomics; Naphtho-γ-pyrone; Polyketides
Although dermatophytes are the most common cause of fungal infections in the world, their basic biology is not well understood. The recent sequencing and annotation of the genomes of five representative dermatophyte species allows for the creation of hypotheses as to how they cause disease and have adapted to their distinct environments. An understanding of the microbiology of these strains will be essential for testing these hypotheses. This study is the first to generally characterize these five sequenced strains of dermatophytes for their microbiological aspects. We measured the growth rate on solid medium and found differences between species, with Microsporum gypseum CBS118893 having the fastest growth and Trichophyton rubrum CBS118892 the slowest. We also compared different media for conidia production and found that the highest numbers of conidia were produced when dermatophytes were grown on MAT agar. We determined the Minimum Inhibitory Concentration (MIC) of nine antifungal agents and confirmed susceptibility to antifungals commonly used as selectable markers. Finally, we tested virulence in the Galleria mellonella (wax moth) larvae model but found the results variable. These results increase our understanding of the microbiology and molecular biology of these dermatophyte strains and will be of use in advancing hypothesis-driven research about dermatophytes.
dermatophytes; Galleria; antifungal; drug susceptibilities
The mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways control diverse cellular functions in pathogenic fungi, including sexual differentiation, stress-response, and maintenance of cell wall integrity. Here we characterized a C. neoformans gene, which is homologous to the yeast Ste50 that is known to play an important role in mating pheromone response and stress response as an adaptor protein to the Ste11 MAPK kinase kinase in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The C. neoformans Ste50 was not involved in any of the stress responses or virulence factor production (capsule and melanin) that are controlled by the HOG and Ras/cAMP signaling pathways. However, Ste50 was required for mating in both serotype A and serotype D C. neoformans strains. The ste50Δ mutant was completely defective in cell-cell fusion and mating pheromone production. Double mutation of the STE50 gene blocked increased production of pheromone and the hyper-filamentation phenotype of cells deleted of the CRG1 gene, which encodes the RGS protein that negatively regulates pheromone responsive G-protein signaling via the MAPK pathway. Regardless of the presence of the basidiomycota-specific SH3 domains of Ste50 that are known to be required for full virulence of Ustilago maydis, Ste50 was dispensable for virulence of C. neoformans in a murine model of cryptococcosis. In conclusion, the Ste50 adaptor protein controls sexual differentiation of C. neoformans via the pheromone-responsive MAPK pathway but is not required for virulence.
Cryptococcus neoformans; MAPK; Ste50; Pheromone; Stress response
Great progress has been made in understanding the regulation of expression of genes involved in secondary metabolism. Less is known about the mechanisms that govern the spatial distribution of the enzymes, cofactors, and substrates that mediate catalysis of secondary metabolites within the cell. Filamentous fungi in the genus Aspergillus synthesize an array of secondary metabolites and provide useful systems to analyze the mechanisms that mediate the temporal and spatial regulation of secondary metabolism in eukaryotes. For example, aflatoxin biosynthesis in A. parasiticus has been studied intensively because this mycotoxin is highly toxic, mutagenic, and carcinogenic in humans and animals. Using aflatoxin synthesis to illustrate key concepts, this review focuses on the mechanisms by which sub-cellular compartmentalization and intra-cellular molecular traffic contribute to the initiation and completion of secondary metabolism within the cell. We discuss the recent discovery of aflatoxisomes, specialized trafficking vesicles that participate in the compartmentalization of aflatoxin synthesis and export of the toxin to the cell exterior; this work provides a new and clearer understanding of how cells integrate secondary metabolism into basic cellular metabolism via the intracellular trafficking machinery.