Inositol Metabolism Regulates Capsule Structure and Virulence in the Human Pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

The environmental yeast Cryptococcus neoformans is the most common cause of deadly fungal meningitis in primarily immunocompromised populations. A number of factors contribute to cryptococcal pathogenesis. Among them, inositol utilization has been shown to promote C. neoformans development in nature and invasion of central nervous system during dissemination. The mechanisms of the inositol regulation of fungal virulence remain incompletely understood. In this study, we analyzed inositol-induced capsule growth and the contribution of a unique inositol catabolic pathway in fungal development and virulence. We found that genes involved in the inositol catabolic pathway are highly induced by inositol, and they are also highly expressed in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with meningoencephalitis. This pathway in C. neoformans contains three genes encoding myo-inositol oxygenases that convert myo-inositol into d-glucuronic acid, a substrate of the pentose phosphate cycle and a component of the polysaccharide capsule. Our mutagenesis analysis demonstrates that inositol catabolism is required for C. neoformans virulence and deletion mutants of myo-inositol oxygenases result in altered capsule growth as well as the polysaccharide structure, including O-acetylation. Our study indicates that the ability to utilize the abundant inositol in the brain may contribute to fungal pathogenesis in this neurotropic fungal pathogen. IMPORTANCE The human pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans is the leading cause of fungal meningitis in primarily immunocompromised populations. Understanding how this environmental organism adapts to the human host to cause deadly infection will guide our development of novel disease control strategies. Our recent studies revealed that inositol utilization by the fungus promotes C. neoformans development in nature and invasion of the central nervous system during infection. The mechanisms of the inositol regulation in fungal virulence remain incompletely understood. In this study, we found that C. neoformans has three genes encoding myo-inositol oxygenase, a key enzyme in the inositol catabolic pathway. Expression of these genes is highly induced by inositol, and they are highly expressed in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with meningoencephalitis. Our mutagenesis analysis indeed demonstrates that inositol catabolism is required for C. neoformans virulence by altering the growth and structure of polysaccharide capsule, a major virulence factor. Considering the abundance of free inositol and inositol-related metabolites in the brain, our study reveals an important mechanism of host inositol-mediated fungal pathogenesis for this neurotropic fungal pathogen.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Wang, Y; Wear, M; Kohli, G; Vij, R; Giamberardino, C; Shah, A; Toffaletti, DL; Yu, C-HA; Perfect, JR; Casadevall, A; Xue, C

Published Date

  • December 21, 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 12 / 6

Start / End Page

  • e0279021 -

PubMed ID

  • 34724824

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8561382

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2150-7511

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1128/mBio.02790-21

Language

  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States