The lysine biosynthetic enzyme Lys4 influences iron metabolism, mitochondrial function and virulence in Cryptococcus neoformans.
ABSTRACT: The lysine biosynthesis pathway via ?-aminoadipate in fungi is considered an attractive target for antifungal drugs due to its absence in mammalian hosts. The iron-sulfur cluster-containing enzyme homoaconitase converts homocitrate to homoisocitrate in the lysine biosynthetic pathway, and is encoded by LYS4 in the model yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In this study, we identified the ortholog of LYS4 in the human fungal pathogen, Cryptococcus neoformans, and found that LYS4 expression is regulated by iron levels and by the iron-related transcription factors Hap3 and HapX. Deletion of the LYS4 gene resulted in lysine auxotrophy suggesting that Lys4 is essential for lysine biosynthesis. Our study also revealed that lysine uptake was mediated by two amino acid permeases, Aap2 and Aap3, and influenced by nitrogen catabolite repression (NCR). Furthermore, the lys4 mutant showed increased sensitivity to oxidative stress, agents that challenge cell wall/membrane integrity, and azole antifungal drugs. We showed that these phenotypes were due in part to impaired mitochondrial function as a result of LYS4 deletion, which we propose disrupts iron homeostasis in the organelle. The combination of defects are consistent with our observation that the lys4 mutant was attenuated virulence in a mouse inhalation model of cryptococcosis.
Project description:Homoaconitase enzymes catalyze hydrolyase reactions in the alpha-aminoadipate pathway for lysine biosynthesis or the 2-oxosuberate pathway for methanogenic coenzyme B biosynthesis. Despite the homology of this iron-sulfur protein to aconitase, previously studied homoaconitases catalyze only the hydration of cis-homoaconitate to form homoisocitrate rather than the complete isomerization of homocitrate to homoisocitrate. The MJ1003 and MJ1271 proteins from the methanogen Methanocaldococcus jannaschii formed the first homoaconitase shown to catalyze both the dehydration of (R)-homocitrate to form cis-homoaconitate, and its hydration is shown to produce homoisocitrate. This heterotetrameric enzyme also used the analogous longer chain substrates cis-(homo)(2)aconitate, cis-(homo)(3)aconitate, and cis-(homo)(4)aconitate, all with similar specificities. A combination of the homoaconitase with the M. jannaschii homoisocitrate dehydrogenase catalyzed all of the isomerization and oxidative decarboxylation reactions required to form 2-oxoadipate, 2-oxopimelate, and 2-oxosuberate, completing three iterations of the 2-oxoacid elongation pathway. Methanogenic archaeal homoaconitases and fungal homoaconitases evolved in parallel in the aconitase superfamily. The archaeal homoaconitases share a common ancestor with isopropylmalate isomerases, and both enzymes catalyzed the hydration of the minimal substrate maleate to form d-malate. The variation in substrate specificity among these enzymes correlated with the amino acid sequences of a flexible loop in the small subunits.
Project description: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:HACN (homoaconitase) is a member of a family of [4Fe-4S] cluster-dependent enzymes that catalyse hydration/dehydration reactions. The best characterized example of this family is the ubiquitous ACN (aconitase), which catalyses the dehydration of citrate to cis-aconitate, and the subsequent hydration of cis-aconitate to isocitrate. HACN is an enzyme from the alpha-aminoadipate pathway of lysine biosynthesis, and has been identified in higher fungi and several archaea and one thermophilic species of bacteria, Thermus thermophilus. HACN catalyses the hydration of cis-homoaconitate to (2R,3S)-homoisocitrate, but the HACN-catalysed dehydration of (R)-homocitrate to cis-homoaconitate has not been observed in vitro. We have synthesized the substrates and putative substrates for this enzyme, and in the present study report the first steady-state kinetic data for recombinant HACN from T. thermophilus using a (2R,3S)-homoisocitrate dehydrogenase-coupled assay. We have also examined the products of the reaction using HPLC. We do not observe HACN-catalysed 'homocitrate dehydratase' activity; however, we have observed that ACN can catalyse the dehydration of (R)-homocitrate to cis-homoaconitate, but HACN is required for subsequent conversion of cis-homoaconitate into homoisocitrate. This suggests that the in vivo process for conversion of homocitrate into homoisocitrate requires two enzymes, in simile with the propionate utilization pathway from Escherichia coli. Surprisingly, HACN does not show any activity when cis-aconitate is substituted for the substrate, even though other enzymes from the alpha-aminoadipate pathway can accept analogous tricarboxylic acid-cycle substrates. The enzyme shows no apparent feedback inhibition by L-lysine.
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:Cryptococcosis is an Invasive Fungal Infection (IFI) caused by Cryptococcus neoformans, mainly in immunocompromised patients. Therapeutic failure due to pathogen drug resistance, treatment inconstancy and few antifungal options is a problem. The study of amino acid biosynthesis and uptake represents an opportunity to explore possible development of novel antifungals. C. neoformans has 10 amino acids permeases, two of them (Aap3 and Aap7) not expressed at the conditions tested, and five were studied previously (Aap2, Aap4, Aap5, Mup1 and Mup3). Our previous results showed that Aap4 and Aap5 are major permeases with overlapping functions. The aap4?/aap5? double mutant fails to grow in amino acids as sole nitrogen source and is avirulent in animal model. Here, we deleted the remaining amino acid permeases (AAP1, AAP6, AAP8) that showed gene expression modulation by nutritional condition and created a double mutant (aap1?/aap2?). We studied the virulence attributes of these mutants and explored the regulatory mechanism behind amino acid uptake in C. neoformans. The aap1?/aap2? strain had reduced growth at 37°C in L-amino acids, reduced capsule production and was hypovirulent in the Galleria mellonella animal model. Our data, along with previous studies, (i) complement the analysis for all 10 amino acid permeases mutants, (ii) corroborate the idea that these transporters behave as global permeases, (iii) are required during heat and nutritional stress, and (iv) are important for virulence. Our study also indicates a new possible link between Ras1 signaling and amino acids uptake.
Project description:The opportunistic pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans causes fungal meningoencephalitis in immunocompromised individuals. In previous studies, we found that the Hap complex in this pathogen represses genes encoding mitochondrial respiratory functions and tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle components under low-iron conditions. The orthologous Hap2/3/4/5 complex in Saccharomyces cerevisiae exerts a regulatory influence on mitochondrial functions, and Hap4 is subject to glucose repression via the carbon catabolite repressor Mig1. In this study, we explored the regulatory link between a candidate ortholog of the Mig1 protein and the HapX component of the Hap complex in C. neoformans. This analysis revealed repression of MIG1 by HapX and activation of HAPX by Mig1 under low-iron conditions and Mig1 regulation of mitochondrial functions, including respiration, tolerance for reactive oxygen species, and expression of genes for iron consumption and iron acquisition functions. Consistently with these regulatory functions, a mig1? mutant had impaired growth on inhibitors of mitochondrial respiration and inducers of ROS. Furthermore, deletion of MIG1 provoked a dysregulation in nutrient sensing via the TOR pathway and impacted the pathway for cell wall remodeling. Importantly, loss of Mig1 increased susceptibility to fluconazole, thus further establishing a link between azole antifungal drugs and mitochondrial function. Mig1 and HapX were also required together for survival in macrophages, but Mig1 alone had a minimal impact on virulence in mice. Overall, these studies provide novel insights into a HapX/Mig1 regulatory network and reinforce an association between mitochondrial dysfunction and drug susceptibility that may provide new targets for the development of antifungal drugs. IMPORTANCE Fungal pathogens of humans are difficult to treat, and there is a pressing need to identify new targets for antifungal drugs and to obtain a detailed understanding of fungal proliferation in vertebrate hosts. In this study, we examined the roles of the regulatory proteins Mig1 and HapX in mitochondrial function and antifungal drug susceptibility in the fungus Cryptococcus neoformans. This pathogen is a particular threat to the large population of individuals infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Our analysis revealed regulatory interactions between Mig1 and HapX, and a role for Mig1 in mitochondrial functions, including respiration, tolerance for reactive oxygen species, and expression of genes for iron consumption and iron acquisition functions. Importantly, loss of Mig1 increased susceptibility to the antifungal drug fluconazole, which is commonly used to treat cryptococcal disease. These studies highlight an association between mitochondrial dysfunction and drug susceptibility that may provide new targets for the development of antifungal drugs.
Project description:Sterol regulatory element binding proteins (SREBPs) are a class of basic helix-loop-helix transcription factors that regulate diverse cellular responses in eukaryotes. Adding to the recognized importance of SREBPs in human health, SREBPs in the human fungal pathogens Cryptococcus neoformans and Aspergillus fumigatus are required for fungal virulence and susceptibility to triazole antifungal drugs. To date, the exact mechanism(s) behind the role of SREBP in these observed phenotypes is not clear. Here, we report that A. fumigatus SREBP, SrbA, mediates regulation of iron acquisition in response to hypoxia and low iron conditions. To further define SrbA's role in iron acquisition in relation to previously studied fungal regulators of iron metabolism, SreA and HapX, a series of mutants were generated in the ?srbA background. These data suggest that SrbA is activated independently of SreA and HapX in response to iron limitation, but that HapX mRNA induction is partially dependent on SrbA. Intriguingly, exogenous addition of high iron or genetic deletion of sreA in the ?srbA background was able to partially rescue the hypoxia growth, triazole drug susceptibility, and decrease in ergosterol content phenotypes of ?srbA. Thus, we conclude that the fungal SREBP, SrbA, is critical for coordinating genes involved in iron acquisition and ergosterol biosynthesis under hypoxia and low iron conditions found at sites of human fungal infections. These results support a role for SREBP-mediated iron regulation in fungal virulence, and they lay a foundation for further exploration of SREBP's role in iron homeostasis in other eukaryotes.
Project description:For many pathogenic fungi, siderophore-mediated iron acquisition is essential for virulence. The process of siderophore production and further mechanisms to adapt to iron limitation are strictly controlled in fungi to maintain iron homeostasis. Here we demonstrate that the human pathogenic dermatophyte Arthroderma benhamiae produces the hydroxamate siderophores ferricrocin and ferrichrome C. Additionally, we show that the iron regulator HapX is crucial for the adaptation to iron starvation and iron excess, but is dispensable for virulence of A. benhamiae. Deletion of hapX caused downregulation of siderophore biosynthesis genes leading to a decreased production of siderophores during iron starvation. Furthermore, HapX was required for transcriptional repression of genes involved in iron-dependent pathways during iron-depleted conditions. Additionally, the ?hapX mutant of A. benhamiae was sensitive to high-iron concentrations indicating that HapX also contributes to iron detoxification. In contrast to other pathogenic fungi, HapX of A. benhamiae was redundant for virulence and a ?hapX mutant was still able to infect keratinized host tissues in vitro. Our findings underline the highly conserved role of the transcription factor HapX for maintaining iron homeostasis in ascomycetous fungi but, unlike in many other human and plant pathogenic fungi, HapX of A. benhamiae is not a virulence determinant.
Project description:Iron is essential for a wide range of cellular processes. Here we show that the bZIP-type regulator HapX is indispensable for the transcriptional remodeling required for adaption to iron starvation in the opportunistic fungal pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus. HapX represses iron-dependent and mitochondrial-localized activities including respiration, TCA cycle, amino acid metabolism, iron-sulfur-cluster and heme biosynthesis. In agreement with the impact on mitochondrial metabolism, HapX-deficiency decreases resistance to tetracycline and increases mitochondrial DNA content. Pathways positively affected by HapX include production of the ribotoxin AspF1 and siderophores, which are known virulence determinants. Iron starvation causes a massive remodeling of the amino acid pool and HapX is essential for the coordination of the production of siderophores and their precursor ornithine. Consistent with HapX-function being limited to iron depleted conditions and A. fumigatus facing iron starvation in the host, HapX-deficiency causes significant attenuation of virulence in a murine model of aspergillosis. Taken together, this study demonstrates that HapX-dependent adaption to conditions of iron starvation is crucial for virulence of A. fumigatus.