The role of the de novo pyrimidine biosynthetic pathway in Cryptococcus neoformans high temperature growth and virulence
Gontijo, Fabiano Assis de [UNIFESP]
Pascon, Renata Castiglioni [UNIFESP]
Machado Junior, Joel [UNIFESP]
Alspaugh, J. Andrew
Vallim, Marcelo Afonso [UNIFESP]
Is part ofFungal Genetics and Biology
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Fungal infections are often difficult to treat due to the inherent similarities between fungal and animal cells and the resulting host toxicity from many antifungal compounds. Cryptococcus neoformans is an opportunistic fungal pathogen of humans that causes life-threatening disease, primarily in immunocompromised patients. Since antifungal therapy for this microorganism is limited, many investigators have explored novel drug targets aim at virulence factors, such as the ability to grow at mammalian physiological temperature (37 degrees C). To address this issue, we used the Agrobacterium tumefaciens gene delivery system to create a random insertion mutagenesis library that was screened for altered growth at elevated temperatures. Among several mutants unable to grow at 37 degrees C, we explored one bearing an interruption in the URA4 gene. This gene encodes dihydroorotase (DHOase) that is involved in the de nova synthesis of pyrimidine ribonucleotides. Loss of the C. neoformans Ura4 protein, by targeted gene interruption, resulted in an expected uracil/uridine auxotrophy and an unexpected high temperature growth defect. in addition, the ura4 mutant displayed phenotypic defects in other prominent virulence factors (melanin, capsule and phospholipase) and reduced stress response compared to wild type and reconstituted strains. Accordingly, this mutant had a decreased survival rate in macrophages and attenuated virulence in a murine model of cryptococcal infection. Quantitative PCR analysis suggests that this biosynthetic pathway is induced during the transition from 30 degrees C to 37 degrees C, and that transcriptional regulation of de nova and salvage pyrimidine pathway are under the control of the Ura4 protein. (C) 2014 the Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-SA license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/).
CitationFungal Genetics and Biology. San Diego: Academic Press Inc Elsevier Science, v. 70, p. 12-23, 2014.
SponsorshipFundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP)
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