HapX positively and negatively regulates the transcriptional response to iron deprivation in Cryptococcus neoformans.
ABSTRACT: The fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans is a major cause of illness in immunocompromised individuals such as AIDS patients. The ability of the fungus to acquire nutrients during proliferation in host tissue and the ability to elaborate a polysaccharide capsule are critical determinants of disease outcome. We previously showed that the GATA factor, Cir1, is a major regulator both of the iron uptake functions needed for growth in host tissue and the key virulence factors such as capsule, melanin and growth at 37°C. We are interested in further defining the mechanisms of iron acquisition from inorganic and host-derived iron sources with the goal of understanding the nutritional adaptation of C. neoformans to the host environment. In this study, we investigated the roles of the HAP3 and HAPX genes in iron utilization and virulence. As in other fungi, the C. neoformans Hap proteins negatively influence the expression of genes encoding respiratory and TCA cycle functions under low-iron conditions. However, we also found that HapX plays both positive and negative roles in the regulation of gene expression, including a positive regulatory role in siderophore transporter expression. In addition, HapX also positively regulated the expression of the CIR1 transcript. This situation is in contrast to the negative regulation by HapX of genes encoding GATA iron regulatory factors in Aspergillus nidulans and Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Although both hapX and hap3 mutants were defective in heme utilization in culture, only HapX made a contribution to virulence, and loss of HapX in a strain lacking the high-affinity iron uptake system did not cause further attenuation of disease. Therefore, HapX appears to have a minimal role during infection of mammalian hosts and instead may be an important regulator of environmental iron uptake functions. Overall, these results indicated that C. neoformans employs multiple strategies for iron acquisition during infection.
Project description:Analysis of the transcriptional response of C. neoformans WT, cir1 mutant, hap3 mutant and hapX mutant to different iron sources. Overall design: The following experimental design was adopted for the study. Within each strain, each treatment pair (low-iron, +FeCl3, +Transferrin and +Hemin; 6 pairs) were hybridized to an array; and within each treatment, each strain (WT, hap3, hapX and cir1, 6 pairs) were hybridized to an array for a total of 48 microarrays. Each strain/treatment combination was labeled an equal number of times with Cy3 and Cy5 to ensure dye balance
Project description:Analysis of the transcriptional response of C. neoformans WT, cir1 mutant, hap3 mutant and hapX mutant to different iron sources. The following experimental design was adopted for the study. Within each strain, each treatment pair (low-iron, +FeCl3, +Transferrin and +Hemin; 6 pairs) were hybridized to an array; and within each treatment, each strain (WT, hap3, hapX and cir1, 6 pairs) were hybridized to an array for a total of 48 microarrays. Each strain/treatment combination was labeled an equal number of times with Cy3 and Cy5 to ensure dye balance
Project description:The GATA-type, zinc-finger protein Cir1 regulates iron uptake, iron homeostasis and virulence factor expression in the fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans. The mechanisms by which Cir1 senses iron availability, although as yet undefined, are important for understanding the proliferation of the fungus in mammalian hosts. We investigated the influence of iron availability on Cir1 and found that the abundance of the protein decreases upon iron deprivation. This destabilization was influenced by reducing conditions and by inhibition of proteasome function. The combined data suggest a post-translational mechanism for the control of Cir1 abundance in response to iron and redox status.
Project description:Mating and sexual development have been associated with virulence in various fungal pathogens including Cryptococcus neoformans. This fungus is a significant pathogen of humans because it causes life-threatening cryptococcal meningitis in immunocompromised people such as AIDS patients. The virulence of C. neoformans is known to be associated with the mating type of the cells (? or a), with the ? mating type being predominant among clinical isolates. However, the mechanisms by which mating and sexual development are controlled by environmental conditions and their relationship with virulence require further investigation. Cir1 is a GATA-type transcription factor that regulates the expression of genes required for utilization of essential metals such as iron and copper, and also genes required for major virulence factors including the polysaccharide capsule and melanin. Here we investigated the role of Cir1 in the mating of C. neoformans. Our results demonstrate that mutants lacking CIR1 are defective in mating, and that Cir1 contributes to copper mediated enhancement of sexual filamentation. Furthermore, we found that Cir1 influences the expression of mating pheromone genes suggesting that this protein plays a role in the early phase of sexual development on V8 mating medium.
Project description:Iron overload is known to exacerbate many infectious diseases, and conversely, iron withholding is an important defense strategy for mammalian hosts. Iron is a critical cue for Cryptococcus neoformans because the fungus senses iron to regulate elaboration of the polysaccharide capsule that is the major virulence factor during infection. Excess iron exacerbates experimental cryptococcosis and the prevalence of this disease in Sub-Saharan Africa has been associated with nutritional and genetic aspects of iron loading in the background of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. We demonstrate that the iron-responsive transcription factor Cir1 in Cr. neoformans controls the regulon of genes for iron acquisition such that cir1 mutants are "blind" to changes in external iron levels. Cir1 also controls the known major virulence factors of the pathogen including the capsule, the formation of the anti-oxidant melanin in the cell wall, and the ability to grow at host body temperature. Thus, the fungus is remarkably tuned to perceive iron as part of the disease process, as confirmed by the avirulence of the cir1 mutant; this characteristic of the pathogen may provide opportunities for antifungal treatment.
Project description:Purpose: Defining the regulatory role of the transcription factors, Cir1 and HapX, in C. neoformans. Methods: Chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by high-throughput sequencing was performed using chromatin immunoprecipitated DNA from the strains Cir1-Flag and HapX-Flag grown in low- and high-iron condition. Results: Cir1 and HapX bind to the promoter region of the genes involved in iron acquisition and metabolism in C. neoformans. Overall design: The enriched binding peaks of Cir1 and HapX were compared with the input DNA (control).
Project description:Iron overload is known to exacerbate many infectious diseases and, conversely, iron withholding is an important defense strategy for mammalian hosts. The mechanisms by which fungal pathogens sense iron in the mammalian host environment are poorly understood. The AIDS-associated pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans provides a unique opportunity to explore iron sensing in the context of infection because iron levels control elaboration of the polysaccharide capsule that is the major virulence factor of the fungus. Additionally, excess iron exacerbates experimental cryptococcosis. We identified the iron-responsive transcription factor Cir1 that regulates iron acquisition in C. neoformans and discovered that Cir1 also controls the expression of all of the known major virulence factors of the fungus. In particular, cir1 mutants are defective in capsule formation and avirulent in a mouse model of cryptococcosis. Thus the ability to sense iron is critical during infection by C. neoformans and may represent a target for antifungal therapy. Keywords: wt/mutant x low/high iron Overall design: The following loop design, which includes three biological replicates and consists of four nodes and paths including dye-swap, was adopted for this study: wild-type (low iron) vs wild-type (high iron), wild-type (low iron) vs cir1delta (low iron), wild-type (high iron) vs cir1delta (high iron), and cir1delta (low iron) vs cir1delta (high iron). A total of 24 arrays were used for the experiment.
Project description:The level of available iron in the mammalian host is extremely low, and pathogenic microbes must compete with host proteins such as transferrin for iron. Iron regulation of gene expression, including genes encoding iron uptake functions and virulence factors, is critical for the pathogenesis of the fungus Cryptococcus neoformans. In this study, we characterized the roles of the CFT1 and CFT2 genes that encode C. neoformans orthologs of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae high-affinity iron permease FTR1. Deletion of CFT1 reduced growth and iron uptake with ferric chloride and holo-transferrin as the in vitro iron sources, and the cft1 mutant was attenuated for virulence in a mouse model of infection. A reduction in the fungal burden in the brains of mice infected with the cft1 mutant was observed, thus suggesting a requirement for reductive iron acquisition during cryptococcal meningitis. CFT2 played no apparent role in iron acquisition but did influence virulence. The expression of both CFT1 and CFT2 was influenced by cAMP-dependent protein kinase, and the iron-regulatory transcription factor Cir1 positively regulated CFT1 and negatively regulated CFT2. Overall, these results indicate that C. neoformans utilizes iron sources within the host (e.g., holo-transferrin) that require Cft1 and a reductive iron uptake system.
Project description:Purpose: Understanding the iron-responsive regulatory networks in Cryptococcus neoformans. Methods: The transcriptome profiles of the wild-type, cir1 mutant and hapX mutant were generated by RNA-seq using Illumina Hiseq, in triplicate. The transcriptome profiles of each mutant was compared with that of the wild-type strain. Results: The iron-responsive transcription factors, Cir1 and HapX, are major regulators for iron acquisition and metabolism in C. neoformans. Overall design: Transcriptome of each mutant vs. Transcriptome of the wild-type
Project description:The acquisition of iron and the maintenance of iron homeostasis are important aspects of virulence for the pathogenic fungus Cryptococcus neoformans In this study, we characterized the role of the monothiol glutaredoxin Grx4 in iron homeostasis and virulence in C. neoformans Monothiol glutaredoxins are important regulators of iron homeostasis because of their conserved roles in [2Fe-2S] cluster sensing and trafficking. We initially identified Grx4 as a binding partner of Cir1, a master regulator of iron-responsive genes and virulence factor elaboration in C. neoformans We confirmed that Grx4 binds Cir1 and demonstrated that iron repletion promotes the relocalization of Grx4 from the nucleus to the cytoplasm. We also found that a grx4 mutant lacking the GRX domain displayed iron-related phenotypes similar to those of a cir1? mutant, including poor growth upon iron deprivation. Importantly, the grx4 mutant was avirulent in mice, a phenotype consistent with observed defects in the key virulence determinants, capsule and melanin, and poor growth at 37°C. A comparative transcriptome analysis of the grx4 mutant and the WT strain under low-iron and iron-replete conditions confirmed a central role for Grx4 in iron homeostasis. Dysregulation of iron-related metabolism was consistent with grx4 mutant phenotypes related to oxidative stress, mitochondrial function, and DNA repair. Overall, the phenotypes of the grx4 mutant lacking the GRX domain and the transcriptome sequencing (RNA-Seq) analysis of the mutant support the hypothesis that Grx4 functions as an iron sensor, in part through an interaction with Cir1, to extensively regulate iron homeostasis.IMPORTANCE Fungal pathogens cause life-threatening diseases in humans, particularly in immunocompromised people, and there is a tremendous need for a greater understanding of pathogenesis to support new therapies. One prominent fungal pathogen, Cryptococcus neoformans, causes meningitis in people suffering from HIV/AIDS. In the present study, we focused on characterizing mechanisms by which C. neoformans senses iron availability because iron is both a signal and a key nutrient for proliferation of the pathogen in vertebrate hosts. Specifically, we characterized a monothiol glutaredoxin protein, Grx4, that functions as a sensor of iron availability and interacts with regulatory factors to control the ability of C. neoformans to cause disease. Grx4 regulates key virulence factors, and a mutant is unable to cause disease in a mouse model of cryptococcosis. Overall, our study provides new insights into nutrient sensing and the role of iron in the pathogenesis of fungal diseases.