Erg6 affects membrane composition and virulence of the human fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Ergosterol is the most important membrane sterol in fungal cells and a component not found in the membranes of human cells. We identified the ERG6 gene in the AIDS-associated fungal pathogen, Cryptococcus neoformans, encoding the sterol C-24 methyltransferase of fungal ergosterol biosynthesis. In this work, we have explored its relationship with high-temperature growth and virulence of C. neoformans by the construction of a loss-of-function mutant. In contrast to other genes involved in ergosterol biosynthesis, C. neoformans ERG6 is not essential for growth under permissive conditions in vitro. However, the erg6 mutant displayed impaired thermotolerance and increased susceptibility to osmotic and oxidative stress, as well as to different antifungal drugs. Total lipid analysis demonstrated a decrease in the erg6Δ strain membrane ergosterol content. In addition, this mutant strain was avirulent in an invertebrate model of C. neoformans infection. C. neoformans Erg6 was cyto-localized in the endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi complex. Our results demonstrate that Erg6 is crucial for growth at high temperature and virulence, likely due to its effects on C. neoformans membrane integrity and dynamics. These pathogen-focused investigations into ergosterol biosynthetic pathway components reinforce the multiple roles of ergosterol in the response of diverse fungal species to alterations in the environment, especially that of the infected host. These studies open perspectives to understand the participation of ergosterol in mechanism of resistance to azole and polyene drugs. Observed synergistic growth defects with co-inhibition of Erg6 and other components of the ergosterol biosynthesis pathway suggests novel approaches to treatment in human fungal infections.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Oliveira, FFM; Paes, HC; Peconick, LDF; Fonseca, FL; Marina, CLF; Bocca, AL; Homem-de-Mello, M; Rodrigues, ML; Albuquerque, P; Nicola, AM; Alspaugh, JA; Felipe, MSS; Fernandes, L

Published Date

  • July 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 140 /

Start / End Page

  • 103368 -

PubMed ID

  • 32201128

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC7293587

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1096-0937

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.fgb.2020.103368


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States