A glycosylphosphatidylinositol anchor is required for membrane localization but dispensable for cell wall association of chitin deacetylase 2 in Cryptococcus neoformans.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

UNLABELLED: Cell wall proteins (CWPs) mediate important cellular processes in fungi, including adhesion, invasion, biofilm formation, and flocculation. The current model of fungal cell wall organization includes a major class of CWPs covalently bound to β-1,6-glucan via a remnant of a glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchor. This model was established by studies of ascomycetes more than a decade ago, and relatively little work has been done with other fungi, although the presumption has been that proteins identified in the cell wall which contain a predicted GPI anchor are covalently linked to cell wall glucans. The pathogenic basidiomycete Cryptococcus neoformans encodes >50 putatively GPI-anchored proteins, some of which have been identified in the cell wall. One of these proteins is chitin deacetylase 2 (Cda2), an enzyme responsible for converting chitin to chitosan, a cell wall polymer recently established as a virulence factor for C. neoformans infection of mammalian hosts. Using a combination of biochemistry, molecular biology, and genetics, we show that Cda2 is GPI anchored to membranes but noncovalently associated with the cell wall by means independent of both its GPI anchor and β-1,6-glucan. We also show that Cda2 produces chitosan when localized to the plasma membrane, but association with the cell wall is not essential for this process, thereby providing insight into the mechanism of chitosan biosynthesis. These results increase our understanding of the surface of C. neoformans and provide models of cell walls likely applicable to other undercharacterized basidiomycete pathogenic fungi. IMPORTANCE: The surface of a pathogenic microbe is a major interface with its host. In fungi, the outer surface consists of a complex matrix known as the cell wall, which includes polysaccharides, proteins, and other molecules. The mammalian host recognizes many of these surface molecules and mounts appropriate responses to combat the microbial infection. Cryptococcus neoformans is a serious fungal pathogen that kills over 600,000 people annually. It converts most of its chitin, a cell wall polysaccharide, to chitosan, which is necessary for virulence. Chitin deacetylase enzymes have been identified in the cell wall, and our studies were undertaken to understand how the deacetylase is linked to the wall and where it has activity. Our results have implications for the current model of chitosan biosynthesis and further challenge the paradigm of covalent linkages between cell wall proteins and polysaccharides through a lipid modification of the protein.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Gilbert, NM; Baker, LG; Specht, CA; Lodge, JK

Published Date

  • 2012

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 3 / 1

PubMed ID

  • 22354955

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC3280450

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2150-7511

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1128/mBio.00007-12


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States