Ustilago maydis KP6 killer toxin: structure, expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and relationship to other cellular toxins.
ABSTRACT: There are a number of yeasts that secrete killer toxins, i.e., proteins lethal to sensitive cells of the same or related species. Ustilago maydis, a fungal pathogen of maize, also secretes killer toxins. The best characterized of the U. maydis killer toxins is the KP6 toxin, which consists of two small polypeptides that are not covalently linked. In this work, we show that both are encoded by one segment of the genome of a double-stranded RNA virus. They are synthesized as a preprotoxin that is processed in a manner very similar to that of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae k1 killer toxin, also encoded by a double-strand RNA virus. Active U. maydis KP6 toxin was secreted from S. cerevisiae transformants expressing the KP6 preprotoxin. The two secreted polypeptides were not glycosylated in U. maydis, but one was glycosylated in S. cerevisiae. Comparison of known and predicted cleavage sites among the five killer toxins of known sequence established a three-amino-acid specificity for a KEX2-like enzyme and predicted a new, undescribed processing enzyme in the secretory pathway in the fungi. The mature KP6 toxin polypeptides had hydrophobicity profiles similar to those of other known cellular toxins.
Project description:Kexin-like proteinases are a subfamily of the subtilisin-like serine proteinases with multiple regulatory functions in eukaryotes. In the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae the Kex2 protein is biochemically well investigated, however, with the exception of a few well known proteins such as the alpha-pheromone precursors, killer toxin precursors and aspartic proteinase propeptides, very few substrates are known. Fungal kex2 deletion mutants display pleiotropic phenotypes that are thought to result from the failure to proteolytically activate such substrates.In this study we have aimed at providing an improved assembly of Kex2 target proteins to explain the phenotypes observed in fungal kex2 deletion mutants by in vitro digestion of recombinant substrates from Candida albicans and C. glabrata. We identified CaEce1, CA0365, one member of the Pry protein family and CaOps4-homolog proteins as novel Kex2 substrates.Statistical analysis of the cleavage sites revealed extended subsite recognition of negatively charged residues in the P1', P2' and P4' positions, which is also reflected in construction of the respective binding pockets in the ScKex2 enzyme. Additionally, we provide evidence for the existence of structural constrains in potential substrates prohibiting proteolysis. Furthermore, by using purified Kex2 proteinases from S. cerevisiae, P. pastoris, C. albicans and C. glabrata, we show that while the substrate specificity is generally conserved between organisms, the proteinases are still distinct from each other and are likely to have additional unique substrate recognition.
Project description:Exploiting secretory pathways for production of heterologous proteins is highly advantageous with respect to efficient downstream processing. In eukaryotic systems the vast majority of heterologous proteins for biotechnological application is exported via the canonical endoplasmic reticulum-Golgi pathway. In the endomembrane system target proteins are often glycosylated and may thus be modified with foreign glycan patterns. This can be destructive for their activity or cause immune reactions against therapeutic proteins. Hence, using unconventional secretion for protein expression is an attractive alternative. In the fungal model Ustilago maydis, chitinase Cts1 is secreted via an unconventional pathway connected to cell separation which can be used to co-export heterologous proteins. Here, we apply this mechanism for the production of nanobodies. First, we achieved expression and unconventional secretion of a functional nanobody directed against green fluorescent protein (Gfp). Second, we found that Cts1 binds to chitin and that this feature can be applied to generate a Gfp-trap. Thus, we demonstrated the dual use of Cts1 serving both as export vehicle and as purification tag. Finally, we established and optimized the production of a nanobody against botulinum toxin A and hence describe the first pharmaceutically relevant target exported by Cts1-mediated unconventional secretion.
Project description:The metabolome and transcriptome of the maize-infecting fungi Ustilago maydis and Fusarium verticillioides were analyzed as the two fungi interact. Both fungi were grown for 7 days in liquid medium alone or together in order to study how this interaction changes their metabolomic and transcriptomic profiles. When grown together, decreased biomass accumulation occurs for both fungi after an initial acceleration of growth compared to the biomass changes that occur when grown alone. The biomass of U. maydis declined most severely over time and may be attributed to the action of F. verticillioides, which secretes toxic secondary metabolites and expresses genes encoding adhesive and cell wall-degrading proteins at higher levels than when grown alone. U. maydis responds to cocultivation by expressing siderophore biosynthetic genes and more highly expresses genes potentially involved in toxin biosynthesis. Also, higher expression was noted for clustered genes encoding secreted proteins that are unique to U. maydis and that may play a role during colonization of maize. Conversely, decreased gene expression was seen for U. maydis genes encoding the synthesis of ustilagic acid, mannosylerythritol D, and another uncharacterized metabolite. Ultimately, U. maydis is unable to react efficiently to the toxic response of F. verticillioides and proportionally loses more biomass. This in vitro study clarifies potential mechanisms of antagonism between these two fungi that also may occur in the soil or in maize, niches for both fungi where they likely interact in nature.
Project description:The O-mannosyltransferase Pmt4 has emerged as crucial for fungal virulence in the animal pathogens Candida albicans or Cryptococcus neoformans as well as in the phytopathogenic fungus Ustilago maydis. Pmt4 O-mannosylates specific target proteins at the Endoplasmic Reticulum. Therefore a deficient O-mannosylation of these target proteins must be responsible for the loss of pathogenicity in pmt4 mutants. Taking advantage of the characteristics described for Pmt4 substrates in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, we performed a proteome-wide bioinformatic approach to identify putative Pmt4 targets in the corn smut fungus U. maydis and validated Pmt4-mediated glycosylation of candidate proteins by electrophoretic mobility shift assays. We found that the signalling mucin Msb2, which regulates appressorium differentiation upstream of the pathogenicity-related MAP kinase cascade, is O-mannosylated by Pmt4. The epistatic relationship of pmt4 and msb2 showed that both are likely to act in the same pathway. Furthermore, constitutive activation of the MAP kinase cascade restored appressorium development in pmt4 mutants, suggesting that during the initial phase of infection the failure to O-mannosylate Msb2 is responsible for the virulence defect of pmt4 mutants. On the other hand we demonstrate that during later stages of pathogenic development Pmt4 affects virulence independently of Msb2, probably by modifying secreted effector proteins. Pit1, a protein required for fungal spreading inside the infected leaf, was also identified as a Pmt4 target. Thus, O-mannosylation of different target proteins affects various stages of pathogenic development in U. maydis.
Project description:Heterologous proteins secreted by yeast and fungal expression hosts are occasionally degraded at basic amino acids. We cloned Pichia pastoris homologs of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae basic residue-specific endoproteases Kex2 and Yps1 to evaluate their involvement in the degradation of a secreted mammalian gelatin. Disruption of the P. pastoris KEX2 gene prevented proteolysis of the foreign protein at specific monoarginylic sites. The S. cerevisiae alpha-factor preproleader used to direct high-level gelatin secretion was correctly processed at its dibasic site in the absence of the prototypical proprotein convertase Kex2. Disruption of the YPS1 gene had no effect on gelatin degradation or processing of the alpha-factor propeptide. When both the KEX2 and YPS1 genes were disrupted, correct precursor maturation no longer occurred. The different substrate specificities of both proteases and their mutual redundancy for propeptide processing indicate that P. pastoris kex2 and yps1 single-gene disruptants can be used for the alpha-factor leader-directed secretion of heterologous proteins otherwise degraded at basic residues.
Project description:Fungal secondary metabolites represent a rich and largely untapped source for bioactive molecules, including peptides with substantial structural diversity and pharmacological potential. As methods proceed to take a deep dive into fungal genomes, complimentary methods to identify bioactive components are required to keep pace with the expanding fungal repertoire. We developed PepSAVI-MS to expedite the search for natural product bioactive peptides and herein demonstrate proof-of-principle applicability of the pipeline for the discovery of bioactive peptides from fungal secretomes via identification of the antifungal killer toxin KP4 from Ustilago maydis P4. This work opens the door to investigating microbial secretomes with a new lens, and could have broad applications across human health, agriculture, and food safety. Graphical Abstract.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The corn smut fungus Ustilago maydis is a well-established model system for molecular phytopathology. In addition, it recently became evident that U. maydis and humans share proteins and cellular processes that are not found in the standard fungal model Saccharomyces cerevisiae. This prompted us to do a comparative analysis of the predicted proteome of U. maydis, S. cerevisiae and humans. RESULTS: At a cut off at 20% identity over protein length, all three organisms share 1738 proteins, whereas both fungi share only 541 conserved proteins. Despite the evolutionary distance between U. maydis and humans, 777 proteins were shared. When applying a more stringent criterion (> or = 20% identity with a homologue in one organism over at least 50 amino acids and > or = 10% less in the other organism), we found 681 proteins for the comparison of U. maydis and humans, whereas the both fungi share only 622 fungal specific proteins. Finally, we found that S. cerevisiae and humans shared 312 proteins. In the U. maydis to H. sapiens homology set 454 proteins are functionally classified and 42 proteins are related to serious human diseases. However, a large portion of 222 proteins are of unknown function. CONCLUSION: The fungus U. maydis has a long history of being a model system for understanding DNA recombination and repair, as well as molecular plant pathology. The identification of functionally un-characterized genes that are conserved in humans and U. maydis opens the door for experimental work, which promises new insight in the cell biology of the mammalian cell.
Project description:Yeasts within the Saccharomyces sensu stricto cluster can produce different killer toxins. Each toxin is encoded by a medium size (1.5-2.4 Kb) M dsRNA virus, maintained by a larger helper virus generally called L-A (4.6 Kb). Different types of L-A are found associated to specific Ms: L-A in K1 strains and L-A-2 in K2 strains. Here, we extend the analysis of L-A helper viruses to yeasts other than S. cerevisiae, namely S. paradoxus, S. uvarum and S. kudriavzevii. Our sequencing data from nine new L-A variants confirm the specific association of each toxin-producing M and its helper virus, suggesting co-evolution. Their nucleotide sequences vary from 10% to 30% and the variation seems to depend on the geographical location of the hosts, suggesting cross-species transmission between species in the same habitat. Finally, we transferred by genetic methods different killer viruses from S. paradoxus into S. cerevisiae or viruses from S. cerevisiae into S. uvarum or S. kudriavzevii. In the foster hosts, we observed no impairment for their stable transmission and maintenance, indicating that the requirements for virus amplification in these species are essentially the same. We also characterized new killer toxins from S. paradoxus and constructed "superkiller" strains expressing them.
Project description:Saccharomyces cerevisiae and other yeast cells harboring the linear double stranded (ds) DNA plasmids pGKL1 and pGKL2 secrete a killer toxin consisting of 97K, 31K and 28K subunits into the culture medium (EMBO J. 5, 1995-2002 (1986), Nucleic Acids Res., 15, 1031-1046 (1987]. The 28K subunit of the killer toxin was successfully expressed in S. cerevisiae when it was cloned on a circular plasmid with its putative promoter region replaced with that of S. cerevisiae chromosomal genes. The expression of the 28K subunit of the killer toxin in killer-sensitive cells resulted in the death of the host cells. This killing activity by the 28K subunit was prevented by the expression of the killer immunity, indicating that the killing activity of the killer toxin complex was carried out by the 28K subunit. Although the 28K subunit was synthesized as a intact precursor protein with its own signal sequence, it was not secreted into the culture medium but remained in the host cells. This indicated that 28K subunit killed host cells from inside of the cells rather than from outside. We further suggested that 28K killer subunit without 97K and 31K subunits did not kill the killer-sensitive cells from outside.
Project description:Ppz enzymes are type-1 related Ser/Thr protein phosphatases that are restricted to fungi. In S. cerevisiae and other fungi, Ppz1 is involved in cation homeostasis and is regulated by two structurally-related inhibitory subunits, Hal3 and Vhs3, with Hal3 being the most physiologically relevant. Remarkably, Hal3 and Vhs3 have moonlighting properties, as they participate in an atypical heterotrimeric phosphopantothenoyl cysteine decarboxylase (PPCDC), a key enzyme for Coenzyme A biosynthesis. Here we identify and functionally characterize Ppz1 phosphatase (UmPpz1) and its presumed regulatory subunit (UmHal3) in the plant pathogen fungus Ustilago maydis. UmPpz1 is not an essential protein in U. maydis and, although possibly related to the cell wall integrity pathway, is not involved in monovalent cation homeostasis. The expression of UmPpz1 in S. cerevisiae Ppz1-deficient cells partially mimics the functions of the endogenous enzyme. In contrast to what was found in C. albicans and A. fumigatus, UmPpz1 is not a virulence determinant. UmHal3, an unusually large protein, is the only functional PPCDC in U. maydis and, therefore, an essential protein. However, when overexpressed in U. maydis or S. cerevisiae, UmHal3 does not reproduce Ppz1-inhibitory phenotypes. Indeed, UmHal3 does not inhibit UmPpz1 in vitro (although ScHal3 does). Therefore, UmHal3 might not be a moonlighting protein.