Project description:BACKGROUND:Infection, even outbreak, caused by Cryptococcus gattii (C. gattii) has been reported in Canada and the United States, but there were sparsely-reported cases of C. gattii in China. Our interest in occurrence, clinical manifestation, laboratory identification and molecular characterization of Chinese C. gattii strains leads us to this research. RESULTS:Out of 254 clinical isolates, initially identified as Cryptococcus neoformans (C. neoformans), eight strains were re-identified as C. gattii. Multi-locus sequence typing (MLST) showed genotype VGI accounted for the most (6 / 8), the other two strains were genotype VGII (VGIIa and VGIIb respectively) with 3 specific spectra of molecular weight about 4342, 8686, 9611?Da by MALDI-TOF MS. The minimal inhibitory concentrations (MICs) of Fluconazole with Yeast one was 2~4 times higher than that with ATB fungus 3 and MICs of antifungal agents against VGII strains were higher than against VGI strains. Comparative proteome analysis showed that 329 and 180 proteins were highly expressed by C. gattii VGI and VGII respectively. The enrichment of differentially expressed proteins was directed to Golgi complex. CONCLUSIONS:Infection by C. gattii in China occurred sparsely. Genotype VGI was predominant but VGII was more resistant to antifungal agents. There was significant difference in protein expression profile between isolates of VGI and VGII C. gattii.
Project description:Cryptococcus gattii molecular type VGII is one of the etiologic agents of cryptococcosis, a systemic mycosis affecting a wide range of host species. Koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) exhibit a comparatively high prevalence of cryptococcosis (clinical and subclinical) and nasal colonization, particularly in captivity. In Australia, disease associated with C. gattii VGII is typically confined to Western Australia and the Northern Territory (with sporadic cases reported in eastern Australia), occupying an enigmatic ecologic niche. A cluster of cryptococcosis in captive koalas in eastern Australia (five confirmed cases, a further two suspected), caused predominantly by C. gattii VGII, was investigated by surveying for subclinical disease, culturing koala nasal swabs and environmental samples, and genotyping cryptococcal isolates. URA5 restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis, multilocus sequence typing (MLST), and whole-genome sequencing (WGS) provided supportive evidence that the transfer of koalas from Western Australia and subsequently between several facilities in Queensland spread VGII into uncontaminated environments and environments in which C. gattii VGI was endemic. MLST identified VGII isolates as predominantly sequence type 7, while WGS further confirmed a limited genomic diversity and revealed a basal relationship with isolates from Western Australia. We hypothesize that this represents a founder effect following the introduction of a koala from Western Australia. Our findings suggest a possible competitive advantage for C. gattii VGII over VGI in the context of this captive koala environment. The ability of koalas to seed C. gattii VGII into new environments has implications for the management of captive populations and movements of koalas between zoos.IMPORTANCE Cryptococcus gattii molecular type VGII is one of the causes of cryptococcosis, a severe fungal disease that is acquired from the environment and affects many host species (including humans and koalas). In Australia, disease caused by C. gattii VGII is largely confined to western and central northern parts of the country, with sporadic cases reported in eastern Australia. We investigated an unusual case cluster of cryptococcosis, caused predominantly by C. gattii VGII, in a group of captive koalas in eastern Australia. This research identified that the movements of koalas between wildlife parks, including an initial transfer of a koala from Western Australia, introduced and subsequently spread C. gattii VGII in this captive environment. The spread of this pathogen by koalas could also impact other species, and these findings are significant in the implications they have for the management of koala transfers and captive environments.
Project description:Cryptococcus neoformans and Cryptococcus gattii are responsible globally for almost one million cryptococcosis cases yearly, mostly in immunocompromised patients, such as those living with HIV. Infections due to C. gattii have mainly been described in tropical and subtropical regions, but its adaptation to temperate regions was crucial in the species evolution and highlighted the importance of this pathogenic yeast in the context of disease. Cryptococcus gattii molecular type VGII has come to the forefront in connection with an on-going emergence in the Pacific North West of North America. Taking into account that previous work pointed towards South America as an origin of this species, the present work aimed to assess the genetic diversity within the Brazilian C. gattii VGII population in order to gain new insights into its origin and global dispersal from the South American continent using the ISHAM consensus MLST typing scheme. Our results corroborate the finding that the Brazilian C. gattii VGII population is highly diverse. The diversity is likely due to recombination generated from sexual reproduction, as evidenced by the presence of both mating types in clinical and environmental samples. The data presented herein strongly supports the emergence of highly virulent strains from ancestors in the Northern regions of Brazil, Amazonia and the Northeast. Numerous genotypes represent a link between Brazil and other parts of the world reinforcing South America as the most likely origin of the C. gattii VGII subtypes and their subsequent global spread, including their dispersal into North America, where they caused a major emergence.
Project description:The Cryptococcus species complex contains two sibling taxa, Cryptococcus neoformans and Cryptococcus gattii. Both species are basidiomycetous yeasts and major pathogens of humans and other mammals. Genotyping methods have identified major haploid molecular types of C. neoformans (VNI, VNII, VNB and VNIV) and of C. gattii (VGI, VGII, VGIII and VGIV). To investigate the phylogenetic relationships among these haploid genotypes, we selected 73 strains from 2000 globally collected isolates investigated in our previous typing studies, representing each of these genotypes and carried out multigene sequence analyses using four genetically unlinked nuclear loci, ACT1, IDE, PLB1 and URA5. The separate or combined sequence analyses of all four loci revealed seven clades with significant support for each molecular type. However, three strains of each species revealed some incongruence between the original molecular type and the sequence-based type obtained here. The topology of the individual gene trees was identical for each clade of C. neoformans but incongruent for the clades of C. gattii indicating recent recombination events within C. gattii. There was strong evidence of recombination in the global VGII population. Both parsimony and likelihood analyses supported three major clades of C. neoformans (VNI/VNB, VNII and VNIV) and four major clades of C. gattii (VGI, VGII, VGIII and VGIV). The sequence variation between VGI, VGIII and VGIV was similar to that between VNI/VNB and VNII. MATa was for the first time identified for VGIV. The VNIV and VGII clades are basal to the C. neoformans or the C. gattii clade, respectively. Divergence times among the seven haploid monophyletic lineages in the Cryptococcus species complex were estimated by applying the hypothesis of the molecular clock. The genetic variation found among all of these haploid monophyletic lineages indicates that they warrant varietal status.
Project description:Cryptococcus gattii-induced cryptococcosis is an emerging infectious disease of humans and animals with worldwide distribution and public health importance due to its significant morbidity and mortality rate. The present study aimed to report a case of pulmonary infection by C. gattii molecular type VGII in State of São Paulo, Brazil.A 5-year-old goat showing intermittent dry cough, ruminal tympany, anorexia, fever, tachycardia and tachypnea was presented for necropsy at the Veterinary Hospital of the School of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Sciences, São Paulo University, São Paulo, Brazil. Postmortem examination revealed numerous 2.0-6.0 cm diameter yellow gelatinous pulmonary masses. Tissues were evaluated by a combination of pathological, mycological, and molecular diagnostic techniques. Microscopically, pneumonia granulomatous, multifocal to coalescing, moderate, with many intralesional carminophilic yeasts was observed. The immunohistochemistry and mycological culture confirmed Cryptococcus spp. Internal transcribed spacers and orotidine monophosphate pyrophosphorylase nucleotide differentiation demonstrated that the isolate corresponds to the C. gattii VGII molecular subtype.To our knowledge, this is the first report of a pulmonary infection in a goat linked to C. gattii molecular type VGII in Southeastern Brazil. Our findings emphasize the need for an active surveillance program for human and animal new infections to improve the current public health policies due to expansion of the epidemiological niche of this important microorganism.
Project description:Since 1999 a lineage of the pathogen Cryptococcus gattii has been infecting humans and other animals in Canada and the Pacific Northwest of the USA. It is now the largest outbreak of a life-threatening fungal infection in a healthy population in recorded history. The high virulence of outbreak strains is closely linked to the ability of the pathogen to undergo rapid mitochondrial tubularisation and proliferation following engulfment by host phagocytes. Most outbreaks spread by geographic expansion across suitable niches, but it is known that genetic re-assortment and hybridisation can also lead to rapid range and host expansion. In the context of C. gattii, however, the likelihood of virulence traits associated with the outbreak lineages spreading to other lineages via genetic exchange is currently unknown. Here we address this question by conducting outgroup crosses between distantly related C. gattii lineages (VGII and VGIII) and ingroup crosses between isolates from the same molecular type (VGII). Systematic phenotypic characterisation shows that virulence traits are transmitted to outgroups infrequently, but readily inherited during ingroup crosses. In addition, we observed higher levels of biparental (as opposed to uniparental) mitochondrial inheritance during VGII ingroup sexual mating in this species and provide evidence for mitochondrial recombination following mating. Taken together, our data suggest that hypervirulence can spread among the C. gattii lineages VGII and VGIII, potentially creating novel hypervirulent genotypes, and that current models of uniparental mitochondrial inheritance in the Cryptococcus genus may not be universal.
Project description:Cryptococcosis is primarily caused by Cryptococcus neoformans and Cryptococcus gattii. These two pathogenic species each divide into four distinct molecular genotypes. In this study, we examined whether genotype influenced susceptibility to antifungal drugs used to treat cryptococcosis using the broth microdilution method described by the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute. C. gattii isolates belonging to molecular genotype VGII had significantly higher MIC values for flucytosine and all azole antifungal agents tested, particularly fluconazole, than isolates of other C. gattii genotypes. In an extended analysis of fluconazole susceptibility, VGII isolates from the north and west of Australia required higher drug levels for inhibition than those from Vancouver Island, Canada. Within C. neoformans, genotype VNII had significantly lower geometric mean MICs for fluconazole than genotype VNI. These results indicate that cryptococcal species, molecular genotype, and region of origin may be important when deciding treatment options for cryptococcosis.
Project description:The Cryptococcus gattii species complex harbors the main etiological agents of cryptococcosis in immunocompetent patients. C. gattii molecular type VGII predominates in the north and northeastern regions of Brazil, leading to high morbidity and mortality rates. C. gattii VGII isolates have a strong clinical relevance and phenotypic variations. These phenotypic variations among C. gattii species complex isolates suggest that some strains are more virulent than others, but little information is available related to the pathogenic properties of those strains. In this study, we analyzed some virulence determinants of C. gattii VGII strains (CG01, CG02, and CG03) isolated from patients in the state of Piauí, Brazil. The C. gattii R265 VGIIa strain, which was isolated from the Vancouver outbreak, differed from C. gattii CG01, CG02 and CG03 isolates (also classified as VGII) when analyzed the capsular dimensions, melanin production, urease activity, as well as the glucuronoxylomannan (GXM) secretion. Those differences directly reflected in their virulence potential. In addition, CG02 displayed higher virulence compared to R265 (VGIIa) strain in a cryptococcal murine model of infection. Lastly, we examined the genotypic diversity of these strains through Multilocus Sequence Type (MLST) and one new subtype was described for the CG02 isolate. This study confirms the presence and the phenotypic and genotypic diversity of highly virulent strains in the Northeast region of Brazil.
Project description:The emergence of distinct populations of Cryptococcus gattii in the temperate North American Pacific Northwest (PNW) was surprising, as this species was previously thought to be confined to tropical and semitropical regions. Beyond a new habitat niche, the dominant emergent population displayed increased virulence and caused primary pulmonary disease, as opposed to the predominantly neurologic disease seen previously elsewhere. Whole-genome sequencing was performed on 118 C. gattii isolates, including the PNW subtypes and the global diversity of molecular type VGII, to better ascertain the natural source and genomic adaptations leading to the emergence of infection in the PNW. Overall, the VGII population was highly diverse, demonstrating large numbers of mutational and recombinational events; however, the three dominant subtypes from the PNW were of low diversity and were completely clonal. Although strains of VGII were found on at least five continents, all genetic subpopulations were represented or were most closely related to strains from South America. The phylogenetic data are consistent with multiple dispersal events from South America to North America and elsewhere. Numerous gene content differences were identified between the emergent clones and other VGII lineages, including genes potentially related to habitat adaptation, virulence, and pathology. Evidence was also found for possible gene introgression from Cryptococcus neoformans var. grubii that is rarely seen in global C. gattii but that was present in all PNW populations. These findings provide greater understanding of C. gattii evolution in North America and support extensive evolution in, and dispersal from, South America. Importance: Cryptococcus gattii emerged in the temperate North American Pacific Northwest (PNW) in the late 1990s. Beyond a new environmental niche, these emergent populations displayed increased virulence and resulted in a different pattern of clinical disease. In particular, severe pulmonary infections predominated in contrast to presentation with neurologic disease as seen previously elsewhere. We employed population-level whole-genome sequencing and analysis to explore the genetic relationships and gene content of the PNW C. gattii populations. We provide evidence that the PNW strains originated from South America and identified numerous genes potentially related to habitat adaptation, virulence expression, and clinical presentation. Characterization of these genetic features may lead to improved diagnostics and therapies for such fungal infections. The data indicate that there were multiple recent introductions of C. gattii into the PNW. Public health vigilance is warranted for emergence in regions where C. gattii is not thought to be endemic.
Project description:Cryptococcus gattii is a pathogenic yeast that together with Cryptococcus neoformans causes cryptococcosis in humans and animals. High numbers of viable C. gattii propagules can be obtained from certain species of Australian Eucalyptus camaldulensis trees, and an epidemiological link between Eucalyptus colonization and human exposure has been proposed. However, the highest prevalence of C. gattii cryptococcosis occurs in Papua New Guinea and in regions of Australia where the eucalypt species implicated to date are not endemic. This study investigated the population structure of three geographically distinct clinical and veterinary populations of C. gattii from Australia and Papua New Guinea. All populations that consisted of a genotype found frequently in Australia (VGI) were strongly clonal and were highly differentiated from one another. Two populations of the less common VGII genotype from Sydney and the Northern Territory had population structures inferring recombination. In addition, there was some evidence of reduced genetic differentiation between these geographically remote regions. In a companion study presented in this issue, VGII isolates were overwhelmingly more fertile than those of the VGI genotype, giving biological support to the indirect assessment of sexual exchange. It appears that the VGI genotype propagates clonally on eucalypts in Australia and on an unknown substrate in Papua New Guinea, with infection initiated by an unidentified infectious propagule. VGII isolates are completing their life cycles and may be dispersed via sexually produced basidiospores, which are also likely to initiate respiratory infection.