Convergent evolution of a fused sexual cycle promotes the haploid lifestyle.
ABSTRACT: Sexual reproduction is restricted to eukaryotic species and involves the fusion of haploid gametes to form a diploid cell that subsequently undergoes meiosis to generate recombinant haploid forms. This process has been extensively studied in the unicellular yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which exhibits separate regulatory control over mating and meiosis. Here we address the mechanism of sexual reproduction in the related hemiascomycete species Candida lusitaniae. We demonstrate that, in contrast to S. cerevisiae, C. lusitaniae exhibits a highly integrated sexual program in which the programs regulating mating and meiosis have fused. Profiling of the C. lusitaniae sexual cycle revealed that gene expression patterns during mating and meiosis were overlapping, indicative of co-regulation. This was particularly evident for genes involved in pheromone MAPK signalling, which were highly induced throughout the sexual cycle of C. lusitaniae. Furthermore, genetic analysis showed that the orthologue of IME2, a 'diploid-specific' factor in S. cerevisiae, and STE12, the master regulator of S. cerevisiae mating, were each required for progression through both mating and meiosis in C. lusitaniae. Together, our results establish that sexual reproduction has undergone significant rewiring between S. cerevisiae and C. lusitaniae, and that a concerted sexual cycle operates in C. lusitaniae that is more reminiscent of the distantly related ascomycete, Schizosaccharomyces pombe. We discuss these results in light of the evolution of sexual reproduction in yeast, and propose that regulatory coupling of mating and meiosis has evolved multiple times as an adaptation to promote the haploid lifestyle.
Project description:Candida species are microbial pathogens originally thought to be asexual, but several are now recognized as sexual or parasexual. Candida albicans, the most common fungus infecting humans, is an obligate diploid with a parasexual cycle involving mating, recombination, and genome reduction but no recognized meiosis. Others (C. lusitaniae, C. guilliermondii) are haploid, and their mating produces spores, suggestive of complete meiotic sexual cycles. However, comparative genomic analysis reveals that these species lack key meiotic components, including the recombinase Dmc1 and cofactors (Mei5/Sae3), synaptonemal-complex proteins (Zip1-Zip4/Hop1), and the crossover interference pathway (Msh4/5).Here we elucidate the structure and functions of the mating-type (MAT) locus and establish that C. lusitaniae undergoes meiosis during its sexual cycle. The MAT-encoded a2 (high-mobility group) and alpha1 (alpha domain) factors specify a and alpha cell identity, whereas the a1 homeodomain protein drives meiosis and sporulation and functions without its canonical heterodimeric partner, alpha2. Despite the apparent loss of meiotic genes, C. lusitaniae undergoes meiosis during sexual reproduction involving diploid intermediates, frequent SPO11-dependent recombination, and whole-genome reduction generating haploid progeny. The majority of meiotic progeny are euploid, but approximately one-third are diploid/aneuploid.The cell identity and meiotic pathways have been substantially rewired, and meiotic generation of both recombinant and aneuploid progeny may expand genetic diversity. These findings inform our understanding of sexual reproduction in pathogenic microbes and the evolutionary plasticity of the meiotic machinery, with implications for the sexual nature of C. albicans and the generation and consequences of aneuploidy in biology and medicine.
Project description:Candida lusitaniae is a dimorphic yeast that is emerging as an opportunistic fungal pathogen. In contrast to Candida albicans, which is diploid and asexual, C. lusitaniae has been reported to have a sexual cycle. We have employed genetic approaches to demonstrate that C. lusitaniae is haploid and has a sexual cycle involving mating between MATa and MATalpha cells under nutrient deprivation conditions. By degenerate PCR, we identified a C. lusitaniae homolog (Cls12) of the Ste12 transcription factor that regulates mating, filamentation, and virulence in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, C. albicans, and Cryptococcus neoformans. Comparison of the CLS12 DNA and protein sequences to other STE12 homologs and transformation experiments with selectable markers from S. cerevisiae (URA3, KanMX, HphMX) and C. albicans (CaURA3) provide evidence that the CUG codon encodes serine instead of leucine in C. lusitaniae, as is also the case in C. albicans. The C. lusitaniae CLS12 gene was disrupted by biolistic transformation and homologous recombination. C. lusitaniae cls12 mutant strains were sterile but had no defect in filamentous growth. Our findings reveal both conserved and divergent roles for the C. lusitaniae STE12 homolog in regulating differentiation of this emerging fungal pathogen.
Project description:Candida species exhibit a variety of ploidy states and modes of sexual reproduction. Most species possess the requisite genes for sexual reproduction, recombination, and meiosis, yet only a few have been reported to undergo a complete sexual cycle including mating and sporulation. Candida albicans, the most studied Candida species and a prevalent human fungal pathogen, completes its sexual cycle via a parasexual process of concerted chromosome loss rather than a conventional meiosis. In this study, we examine ploidy changes in Candida tropicalis, a closely related species to C. albicans that was recently revealed to undergo sexual mating. C. tropicalis diploid cells mate to form tetraploid cells, and we show that these can be induced to undergo chromosome loss to regenerate diploid forms by growth on sorbose medium. The diploid products are themselves mating competent, thereby establishing a parasexual cycle in this species for the first time. Extended incubation (>120 generations) of C. tropicalis tetraploid cells under rich culture conditions also resulted in instability of the tetraploid form and a gradual reduction in ploidy back to the diploid state. The fitness levels of C. tropicalis diploid and tetraploid cells were compared, and diploid cells exhibited increased fitness relative to tetraploid cells in vitro, despite diploid and tetraploid cells having similar doubling times. Collectively, these experiments demonstrate distinct pathways by which a parasexual cycle can occur in C. tropicalis and indicate that nonmeiotic mechanisms drive ploidy changes in this prevalent human pathogen.
Project description:Nearly all animals reproduce sexually through the production and fusion of sperm and egg cells, yet little is known about the ancestry of animal sexual reproduction. Moreover, the sexual cycle of the closest living relatives of animals, the choanoflagellates, remains completely unknown. The choanoflagellate Monosiga brevicollis possesses a "meiotic toolkit" of genes, but the lack of polymorphisms detected during genome sequencing precluded inferences about its ploidy or sexual cycle. Here, we report that a related choanoflagellate, Salpingoeca rosetta, has a sexual life cycle and transitions between haploid and diploid states. Haploid cultures of S. rosetta became diploid in response to nutrient limitation. This ploidy shift coincided with anisogamous mating, during which small flagellated cells fused with larger flagellated cells. Distributions of polymorphisms in laboratory strains of S. rosetta provided independent evidence of historical recombination and mating. The ability of S. rosetta to produce morphologically differentiated gametes and to engage in sexual reproduction has implications for both reconstructing the evolution of sex in the progenitors of animals and establishing classical genetics in choanoflagellates.
Project description:In eukaryote pathogens, sex is an important driving force in spreading genes for drug resistance, pathogenicity, and virulence. For the parasitic trypanosomes that cause African sleeping sickness, mating occurs during transmission by the tsetse vector and involves meiosis, but haploid gametes have not yet been identified. Here, we show that meiosis is a normal part of development in the insect salivary glands for all subspecies of Trypanosoma brucei, including the human pathogens. By observing insect-derived trypanosomes during the window of peak expression of meiosis-specific genes, we identified promastigote-like (PL) cells that interacted with each other via their flagella and underwent fusion, as visualized by the mixing of cytoplasmic red and green fluorescent proteins. PL cells had a short, wide body, a very long anterior flagellum, and either one or two kinetoplasts, but only the anterior kinetoplast was associated with the flagellum. Measurement of nuclear DNA contents showed that PL cells were haploid relative to diploid metacyclics. Trypanosomes are among the earliest diverging eukaryotes, and our results support the hypothesis that meiosis and sexual reproduction are ubiquitous in eukaryotes and likely to have been early innovations.
Project description:The cell-fate decision leading to gametogenesis is essential for sexual reproduction. In S. cerevisiae, only diploid MATa/? but not haploid MATa or MAT? cells undergo gametogenesis, known as sporulation. We find that transcription of two long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) mediates mating-type control of sporulation. In MATa or MAT? haploids, expression of IME1, the central inducer of gametogenesis, is inhibited in cis by transcription of the lncRNA IRT1, located in the IME1 promoter. IRT1 transcription recruits the Set2 histone methyltransferase and the Set3 histone deacetylase complex to establish repressive chromatin at the IME1 promoter. Inhibiting expression of IRT1 and an antisense transcript that antagonizes the expression of the meiotic regulator IME4 allows cells expressing the haploid mating type to sporulate with kinetics that are indistinguishable from that of MATa/? diploids. Conversely, expression of the two lncRNAs abolishes sporulation in MATa/? diploids. Thus, transcription of two lncRNAs governs mating-type control of gametogenesis in yeast.
Project description:Candida albicans is a diploid fungus that has become a medically important opportunistic pathogen in immunocompromised individuals. We have sequenced the C. albicans genome to 10.4-fold coverage and performed a comparative genomic analysis between C. albicans and Saccharomyces cerevisiae with the objective of assessing whether Candida possesses a genetic repertoire that could support a complete sexual cycle. Analyzing over 500 genes important for sexual differentiation in S. cerevisiae, we find many homologues of genes that are implicated in the initiation of meiosis, chromosome recombination, and the formation of synaptonemal complexes. However, others are striking in their absence. C. albicans seems to have homologues of all of the elements of a functional pheromone response pathway involved in mating in S. cerevisiae but lacks many homologues of S. cerevisiae genes for meiosis. Other meiotic gene homologues in organisms ranging from filamentous fungi to Drosophila melanogaster and Caenorhabditis elegans were also found in the C. albicans genome, suggesting potential alternative mechanisms of genetic exchange.
Project description:A genomic collection of haploid Saccharomyces cerevisiae deletion strains provides a unique resource for systematic analysis of gene interactions. Double-mutant haploid strains can be constructed by the synthetic genetic array (SGA) method, wherein a query mutation is introduced by mating to mutant arrays, selection of diploid double mutants, induction of meiosis, and selection of recombinant haploid double-mutant progeny. The mechanism of haploid selection is mating-type-regulated auxotrophy (MRA), by which prototrophy is restricted to a particular haploid genotype generated only as a result of meiosis. MRA escape leads to false-negative genetic interaction results because postmeiotic haploids that are supposed to be under negative selection instead proliferate and mate, forming diploids that are heterozygous at interacting loci, masking phenotypes that would be observed in a pure haploid double-mutant culture. This work identified factors that reduce MRA escape, including insertion of terminator and repressor sequences upstream of the MRA cassette, deletion of silent mating-type loci, and utilization of alpha-type instead of a-type MRA. Modifications engineered to reduce haploid MRA escape reduced false negative results in SGA-type analysis, resulting in >95% sensitivity for detecting gene-gene interactions.
Project description:Candida albicans has an elaborate, yet efficient, mating system that promotes conjugation between diploid a and alpha strains. The product of mating is a tetraploid a/alpha cell that must undergo a reductional division to return to the diploid state. Despite the presence of several "meiosis-specific" genes in the C. albicans genome, a meiotic program has not been observed. Instead, tetraploid products of mating can be induced to undergo efficient, random chromosome loss, often producing strains that are diploid, or close to diploid, in ploidy. Using SNP and comparative genome hybridization arrays we have now analyzed the genotypes of products from the C. albicans parasexual cycle. We show that the parasexual cycle generates progeny strains with shuffled combinations of the eight C. albicans chromosomes. In addition, several isolates had undergone extensive genetic recombination between homologous chromosomes, including multiple gene conversion events. Progeny strains exhibited altered colony morphologies on laboratory media, demonstrating that the parasexual cycle generates phenotypic variants of C. albicans. In several fungi, including Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Schizosaccharomyces pombe, the conserved Spo11 protein is integral to meiotic recombination, where it is required for the formation of DNA double-strand breaks. We show that deletion of SPO11 prevented genetic recombination between homologous chromosomes during the C. albicans parasexual cycle. These findings suggest that at least one meiosis-specific gene has been re-programmed to mediate genetic recombination during the alternative parasexual life cycle of C. albicans. We discuss, in light of the long association of C. albicans with warm-blooded animals, the potential advantages of a parasexual cycle over a conventional sexual cycle.
Project description:Meiosis is a crucial process of sexual reproduction by forming haploid gametes from diploid precursor cells. It involves 2 subsequent divisions (meiosis I and meiosis II) after one initial round of DNA replication. Homologous monocentric chromosomes are separated during the first and sister chromatids during the second meiotic division. The faithful segregation of monocentric chromosomes is realized by mono-orientation of fused sister kinetochores at metaphase I and by bi-orientation of sister kinetochores at metaphase II. Conventionally this depends on a 2-step loss of cohesion, along chromosome arms during meiosis I and at sister centromeres during meiosis II.