Gene Function Analysis in the Ubiquitous Human Commensal and Pathogen Malassezia Genus.
The genus Malassezia includes 14 species that are found on the skin of humans and animals and are associated with a number of diseases. Recent genome sequencing projects have defined the gene content of all 14 species; however, to date, genetic manipulation has not been possible for any species within this genus. Here, we develop and then optimize molecular tools for the transformation of Malassezia furfur and Malassezia sympodialis using Agrobacterium tumefaciens delivery of transfer DNA (T-DNA) molecules. These T-DNAs can insert randomly into the genome. In the case of M. furfur, targeted gene replacements were also achieved via homologous recombination, enabling deletion of the ADE2 gene for purine biosynthesis and of the LAC2 gene predicted to be involved in melanin biosynthesis. Hence, the introduction of exogenous DNA and direct gene manipulation are feasible in Malassezia species. IMPORTANCE: Species in the genus Malassezia are a defining component of the microbiome of the surface of mammals. They are also associated with a wide range of skin disease symptoms. Many species are difficult to culture in vitro, and although genome sequences are available for the species in this genus, it has not been possible to assess gene function to date. In this study, we pursued a series of possible transformation methods and identified one that allows the introduction of DNA into two species of Malassezia, including the ability to make targeted integrations into the genome such that genes can be deleted. This research opens a new direction in terms of now being able to analyze gene functions in this little understood genus. These tools will contribute to define the mechanisms that lead to the commensalism and pathogenicity in this group of obligate fungi that are predominant on the skin of mammals.
Ianiri, G; Averette, AF; Kingsbury, JM; Heitman, J; Idnurm, A
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