HDAC genes play distinct and redundant roles in Cryptococcus neoformans virulence.
The human fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans undergoes many phenotypic changes to promote its survival in specific ecological niches and inside the host. To explore the role of chromatin remodeling on the expression of virulence-related traits, we identified and deleted seven genes encoding predicted class I/II histone deacetylases (HDACs) in the C. neoformans genome. These studies demonstrated that individual HDACs control non-identical but overlapping cellular processes associated with virulence, including thermotolerance, capsule formation, melanin synthesis, protease activity and cell wall integrity. We also determined the HDAC genes necessary for C. neoformans survival during in vitro macrophage infection and in animal models of cryptococcosis. Our results identified the HDA1 HDAC gene as a central mediator controlling several cellular processes, including mating and virulence. Finally, a global gene expression profile comparing the hda1Δ mutant versus wild-type revealed altered transcription of specific genes associated with the most prominent virulence attributes in this fungal pathogen. This study directly correlates the effects of Class I/II HDAC-mediated chromatin remodeling on the marked phenotypic plasticity and virulence potential of this microorganism. Furthermore, our results provide insights into regulatory mechanisms involved in virulence gene expression that are likely shared with other microbial pathogens.
Brandão, F; Esher, SK; Ost, KS; Pianalto, K; Nichols, CB; Fernandes, L; Bocca, AL; Poças-Fonseca, MJ; Alspaugh, JA
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