The Sec1/Munc18 (SM) protein Vps45 is involved in iron uptake, mitochondrial function and virulence in the pathogenic fungus Cryptococcus neoformans.
ABSTRACT: The battle for iron between invading microorganisms and mammalian hosts is a pivotal determinant of the outcome of infection. The pathogenic fungus, Cryptococcus neoformans, employs multiple mechanisms to compete for iron during cryptococcosis, a disease primarily of immunocompromised hosts. In this study, we examined the role of endocytic trafficking in iron uptake by characterizing a mutant defective in the Sec1/Munc18 (SM) protein Vps45. This protein is known to regulate the machinery for vesicle trafficking and fusion via interactions with SNARE proteins. As expected, a vps45 deletion mutant was impaired in endocytosis and showed sensitivity to trafficking inhibitors. The mutant also showed poor growth on iron-limited media and a defect in transporting the Cfo1 ferroxidase of the high-affinity iron uptake system from the plasma membrane to the vacuole. Remarkably, we made the novel observation that Vps45 also contributes to mitochondrial function in that a Vps45-Gfp fusion protein associated with mitotracker, and a vps45 mutant showed enhanced sensitivity to inhibitors of electron transport complexes as well as changes in mitochondrial membrane potential. Consistent with mitochondrial function, the vps45 mutant was impaired in calcium homeostasis. To assess the relevance of these defects for virulence, we examined cell surface properties of the vps45 mutant and found increased sensitivity to agents that challenge cell wall integrity and to antifungal drugs. A change in cell wall properties was consistent with our observation of altered capsule polysaccharide attachment, and with attenuated virulence in a mouse model of cryptococcosis. Overall, our studies reveal a novel role for Vps45-mediated trafficking for iron uptake, mitochondrial function and virulence.
Project description:Iron acquisition is a critical aspect of the virulence of many pathogenic microbes, and iron limitation is an important defense mechanism for mammalian hosts. We are examining mechanisms of iron regulation and acquisition in the fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans, and here, we characterize the roles of the ferroxidases Cfo1 and Cfo2. Cfo1 is required for the reductive iron uptake system that mediates the utilization of transferrin, an important iron source for C. neoformans during infection. The virulence of a cfo1 mutant was attenuated in a mouse model of cryptococcosis, and the mutant also displayed increased sensitivities to the antifungal drugs fluconazole and amphotericin B. Wild-type levels of drug sensitivity were restored by the addition of exogenous heme, which suggested that reduced levels of intracellular iron may curtail heme levels and interfere with ergosterol biosynthesis. We constructed green fluorescent protein (GFP) fusion proteins and found elevated expression of Cfo1-GFP upon iron limitation, as well as localization of the fusion to the plasma membrane. Trafficking to this location was disrupted by a defect in the catalytic subunit of cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase. This result is consistent with findings from studies indicating an influence of the kinase on the expression of protein-trafficking functions in C. neoformans.
Project description:The high-affinity reductive iron uptake system that includes a ferroxidase (Cfo1) and an iron permease (Cft1) is critical for the pathogenesis of Cryptococcus neoformans. In addition, a mutant lacking CFO1 or CFT1 not only has reduced iron uptake but also displays a markedly increased susceptibility to azole antifungal drugs. Altered antifungal susceptibility of the mutants was of particular interest because the iron uptake system has been proposed as an alternative target for antifungal treatment. In this study, we used transcriptome analysis to begin exploring the molecular mechanisms of altered antifungal susceptibility in a cfo1 mutant. The wild-type strain and the cfo1 mutant were cultured with or without the azole antifungal drug fluconazole and their transcriptomes were compared following sequencing with Illumina Genome Analyzer IIx (GAIIx) technology. As expected, treatment of both strains with fluconazole caused elevated expression of genes in the ergosterol biosynthetic pathway that includes the target enzyme Erg11. Additionally, genes differentially expressed in the cfo1 mutant were involved in iron uptake and homeostasis, mitochondrial functions and respiration. The cfo1 mutant also displayed phenotypes consistent with these changes including a reduced ratio of NAD(+)/NADH and down-regulation of Fe-S cluster synthesis. Moreover, combination treatment of the wild-type strain with fluconazole and the respiration inhibitor diphenyleneiodonium dramatically increased susceptibility to fluconazole. This result supports the hypothesis that down-regulation of genes required for respiration contributed to the altered fluconazole susceptibility of the cfo1 mutant. Overall, our data suggest that iron uptake and homeostasis play a key role in antifungal susceptibility and could be used as novel targets for combination treatment of cryptococcosis. Indeed, we found that iron chelation in combination with fluconazole treatment synergistically inhibited the growth of C. neoformans.
Project description:Iron acquisition is critical for the ability of the pathogenic yeast Cryptococcus neoformans to cause disease in vertebrate hosts. In particular, iron overload exacerbates cryptococcal disease in an animal model, defects in iron acquisition attenuate virulence, and iron availability influences the expression of major virulence factors. C. neoformans acquires iron by multiple mechanisms, including a ferroxidase-permease high-affinity system, siderophore uptake, and utilization of both heme and transferrin. In this study, we examined the expression of eight candidate ferric reductase genes and their contributions to iron acquisition as well as to ferric and cupric reductase activities. We found that loss of the FRE4 gene resulted in a defect in production of the virulence factor melanin and increased susceptibility to azole antifungal drugs. In addition, the FRE2 gene was important for growth on the iron sources heme and transferrin, which are relevant for proliferation in the host. Fre2 may participate with the ferroxidase Cfo1 of the high-affinity uptake system for growth on heme, because a mutant lacking both genes showed a more pronounced growth defect than the fre2 single mutant. A role for Fre2 in iron acquisition is consistent with the attenuation of virulence observed for the fre2 mutant. This mutant also was defective in accumulation in the brains of infected mice, a phenotype previously observed for mutants with defects in high-affinity iron uptake (e.g., the cfo1 mutant). Overall, this study provides a more detailed view of the iron acquisition components required for C. neoformans to cause cryptococcosis.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Neutrophils are the predominant phagocytes that provide protection against bacterial and fungal infections. Genetically determined neutrophil disorders confer a predisposition to severe infections and reveal novel mechanisms that control vesicular trafficking, hematopoiesis, and innate immunity. METHODS:We clinically evaluated seven children from five families who had neutropenia, neutrophil dysfunction, bone marrow fibrosis, and nephromegaly. To identify the causative gene, we performed homozygosity mapping using single-nucleotide polymorphism arrays, whole-exome sequencing, immunoblotting, immunofluorescence, electron microscopy, a real-time quantitative polymerase-chain-reaction assay, immunohistochemistry, flow cytometry, fibroblast motility assays, measurements of apoptosis, and zebrafish models. Correction experiments were performed by transfecting mutant fibroblasts with the nonmutated gene. RESULTS:All seven affected children had homozygous mutations (Thr224Asn or Glu238Lys, depending on the child's ethnic origin) in VPS45, which encodes a protein that regulates membrane trafficking through the endosomal system. The level of VPS45 protein was reduced, as were the VPS45 binding partners rabenosyn-5 and syntaxin-16. The level of ?1 integrin was reduced on the surface of VPS45-deficient neutrophils and fibroblasts. VPS45-deficient fibroblasts were characterized by impaired motility and increased apoptosis. A zebrafish model of vps45 deficiency showed a marked paucity of myeloperoxidase-positive cells (i.e., neutrophils). Transfection of patient cells with nonmutated VPS45 corrected the migration defect and decreased apoptosis. CONCLUSIONS:Defective endosomal intracellular protein trafficking due to biallelic mutations in VPS45 underlies a new immunodeficiency syndrome involving impaired neutrophil function. (Funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute and others.).
Project description:The small GTPase Rab5 has emerged as an important regulator of animal development, and it is essential for endocytic trafficking. However, the mechanisms that link Rab5 activation to cargo entry into early endosomes remain unclear. We show here that Drosophila Rabenosyn (Rbsn) is a Rab5 effector that bridges an interaction between Rab5 and the Sec1/Munc18-family protein Vps45, and we further identify the syntaxin Avalanche (Avl) as a target for Vps45 activity. Rbsn and Vps45, like Avl and Rab5, are specifically localized to early endosomes and are required for endocytosis. Ultrastructural analysis of rbsn, Vps45, avl, and Rab5 null mutant cells, which show identical defects, demonstrates that all four proteins are required for vesicle fusion to form early endosomes. These defects lead to loss of epithelial polarity in mutant tissues, which overproliferate to form neoplastic tumors. This work represents the first characterization of a Rab5 effector as a tumor suppressor, and it provides in vivo evidence for a Rbsn-Vps45 complex on early endosomes that links Rab5 to the SNARE fusion machinery.
Project description:Mitochondria play a vital role in iron uptake and metabolism in pathogenic fungi, and also influence virulence and drug tolerance. However, the regulation of iron transport within the mitochondria of Cryptococcus neoformans, a causative agent of fungal meningoencephalitis in immunocompromised individuals, remains largely uncharacterized. In this study, we identified and functionally characterized Mrs3/4, a homolog of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae mitochondrial iron transporter, in C. neoformans var. grubii. A strain expressing an Mrs3/4-GFP fusion protein was generated, and the mitochondrial localization of the fusion protein was confirmed. Moreover, a mutant lacking the MRS3/4 gene was constructed; this mutant displayed significantly reduced mitochondrial iron and cellular heme accumulation. In addition, impaired mitochondrial iron-sulfur cluster metabolism and altered expression of genes required for iron uptake at the plasma membrane were observed in the mrs3/4 mutant, suggesting that Mrs3/4 is involved in iron import and metabolism in the mitochondria of C. neoformans. Using a murine model of cryptococcosis, we demonstrated that an mrs3/4 mutant is defective in survival and virulence. Taken together, our study suggests that Mrs3/4 is responsible for iron import in mitochondria and reveals a link between mitochondrial iron metabolism and the virulence of C. neoformans.
Project description:In vertebrate lens, lens epithelial cells cover the anterior half of the lens fiber core. Lens epithelial cells proliferate, move posteriorly and start to differentiate into lens fiber cells at the lens equator. Although FGF signaling promotes this equatorial commencement of lens fiber differentiation, the underlying mechanism is not fully understood. Here, we show that lens epithelial cells abnormally enter lens fiber differentiation without passing through the equator in zebrafish <i>vps45</i> mutants. VPS45 belongs to the Sec1/Munc18-like protein family and promotes endosome trafficking, which differentially modulates signal transduction. Ectopic lens fiber differentiation in <i>vps45</i> mutants does not depend on FGF, but is mediated through activation of TGF? signaling and inhibition of canonical Wnt signaling. Thus, VPS45 normally suppresses lens fiber differentiation in the anterior region of lens epithelium by modulating TGF? and canonical Wnt signaling pathways. These data indicate a novel role of endosome trafficking to ensure equator-dependent commencement of lens fiber differentiation.
Project description:Transcriptome profiling of wild type and cfo1 mutant with fluconazole treatment in Cryptococcus neoformans var. grubii H99 Purpose: The goals of this study are to compare cfo1 mutant transcriptome profiling (RNA-seq) to wild-type with or without fluconazole treatment in Cryptococcus neoformans var. grubii H99. Methods: mRNA profiles of wild-type and cfo1 mutant with or without fluconazole treatment were generated by RNA-Seq, using Illumina GAIIx. The sequence reads that passed quality filters were mapped to reference genome and the normalized RPKM values were calculated by CLC Genomics Workbench. Results: Compared to wild-type, a number of genes were differentially expressed in the cfo1 mutant, especially genes involved in iron homeostasis and transport, ergosterol biosynthesis, mitochondrial function and respiration. Conclusions: Our data suggested reduced expression of the genes in the respiratory chain is the main reason for altered antifungal sensitivity of the cfo1 mutant. The results of our study revealed that iron uptake plays a key role in fluconazole sensitivity of C. neoformans. Overall design: mRNA profiles of wild-type and cfo1 mutant with fluconazole treatment were generated by RNA-Seq, using Illumina GAIIx.
Project description:Fusion of intracellular trafficking vesicles is mediated by the assembly of SNARE proteins into membrane-bridging complexes. SNARE-mediated membrane fusion requires Sec1/Munc18-family (SM) proteins, SNARE chaperones that can function as templates to catalyze SNARE complex assembly. Paradoxically, the SM protein Munc18-1 traps the Qa-SNARE protein syntaxin-1 in an autoinhibited closed conformation. Here we present the structure of a second SM-Qa-SNARE complex, Vps45-Tlg2. Strikingly, Vps45 holds Tlg2 in an open conformation, with its SNARE motif disengaged from its Habc domain and its linker region unfolded. The domain 3a helical hairpin of Vps45 is unfurled, exposing the presumptive R-SNARE binding site to allow template complex formation. Although Tlg2 has a pronounced tendency to form homo-tetramers, Vps45 can rescue Tlg2 tetramers into stoichiometric Vps45-Tlg2 complexes. Our findings demonstrate that SM proteins can engage Qa-SNAREs using at least two different modes, one in which the SNARE is closed and one in which it is open.
Project description:Iron availability is a key regulator of virulence factor elaboration in Cryptococcus neoformans, the causative agent of fungal meningoencephalitis in HIV/AIDS patients. In addition, iron is an essential nutrient for pathogen proliferation in mammalian hosts but little is known about the mechanisms of iron sensing and uptake in fungal pathogens that attack humans. In this study, we mutagenized C. neoformans by Agrobacterium-mediated T-DNA insertion and screened for mutants with reduced growth on heme as the sole iron source. Among 34 mutants, we identified a subset with insertions in the gene for the ESCRT-I (endosomal sorting complex required for transport) protein Vps23 that resulted in a growth defect on heme, presumably due to a defect in uptake via endocytosis or misregulation of iron acquisition from heme. Remarkably, vps23 mutants were also defective in the elaboration of the cell-associated capsular polysaccharide that is a major virulence factor, while overexpression of Vps23 resulted in cells with a slightly enlarged capsule. These phenotypes were mirrored by a virulence defect in the vps23 mutant in a mouse model of cryptococcosis and by hypervirulence of the overexpression strain. Overall, these results reveal an important role for trafficking via ESCRT functions in both heme uptake and capsule formation, and they further reinforce the connection between iron and virulence factor deployment in C. neoformans.