Cryptococcus neoformans differential gene expression detected in vitro and in vivo with green fluorescent protein.
Synthetic green fluorescent protein (GFP) was used as a reporter to detect differential gene expression in the pathogenic fungus Cryptococcus neoformans. Promoters from the C. neoformans actin, GAL7, or mating-type alpha pheromone (MFalpha1) genes were fused to GFP, and the resulting reporter genes were used to assess gene expression in serotype A C. neoformans. Yeast cells containing an integrated pACT::GFP construct demonstrated that the actin promoter was expressed during vegetative growth on yeast extract-peptone-dextrose medium. In contrast, yeast cells containing the inducible GAL7::GFP or MFalpha1::GFP reporter genes expressed significant GFP activity only during growth on galactose medium or V-8 agar, respectively. These findings demonstrated that the GAL7 and MFalpha1 promoters from a serotype D C. neoformans strain function when introduced into a serotype A strain. Because the MFalpha1 promoter is induced by nutrient deprivation and the MATalpha locus containing the MFalpha1 gene has been linked with virulence, yeast cells containing the pMFalpha1::GFP reporter gene were analyzed for GFP expression in the central nervous system (CNS) of immunosuppressed rabbits. In fact, significant GFP expression from the MFalpha1::GFP reporter gene was detected after the first week of a CNS infection. These findings suggest that there are temporal, host-specific cues that regulate gene expression during infection and that the MFalpha1 gene is induced during the proliferative stage of a CNS infection. In conclusion, GFP can be used as an effective and sensitive reporter to monitor specific C. neoformans gene expression in vitro, and GFP reporter constructs can be used as an approach to identify a novel gene(s) or to characterize known genes whose expression is regulated during infection.
del Poeta, M; Toffaletti, DL; Rude, TH; Sparks, SD; Heitman, J; Perfect, JR
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