Peroxisome function regulates growth on glucose in the basidiomycete fungus Cryptococcus neoformans.
The function of the peroxisomes was examined in the pathogenic basidiomycete Cryptococcus neoformans. Recent studies reveal the glyoxylate pathway is required for virulence of diverse microbial pathogens of plants and animals. One exception is C. neoformans, in which isocitrate lyase (encoded by ICL1) was previously shown not to be required for virulence, and here this was extended to exclude also a role for malate synthase (encoded by MLS1). The role of peroxisomes, in which the glyoxylate pathway enzymes are localized in many organisms, was examined by mutation of two genes (PEX1 and PEX6) encoding AAA (ATPases associated with various cellular activities)-type proteins required for peroxisome formation. The pex1 and pex6 deletion mutants were unable to localize the fluorescent DsRED-SKL protein to peroxisomal punctate structures, in contrast to wild-type cells. pex1 and pex6 single mutants and a pex1 pex6 double mutant exhibit identical phenotypes, including abolished growth on fatty acids but no growth difference on acetate. Because both icl1 and mls1 mutants are unable to grow on acetate as the sole carbon source, these findings demonstrate that the glyoxylate pathway can function efficiently outside the peroxisome in C. neoformans. The pex1 mutant exhibits wild-type virulence in a murine inhalation model and in an insect host, demonstrating that peroxisomes are not required for virulence under these conditions. An unusual phenotype of the pex1 and pex6 mutants was that they grew poorly with glucose as the carbon source, but nearly wild type with galactose, which suggested impaired hexokinase function and that C. neoformans peroxisomes might function analogously to the glycosomes of the trypanosomid parasites. Deletion of the hexokinase HXK2 gene reduced growth in the presence of glucose and suppressed the growth defect of the pex1 mutant on glucose. The hexokinase 2 protein of C. neoformans contains a predicted peroxisome targeting signal (type 2) motif; however, Hxk2 fused to fluorescent proteins was not localized to peroxisomes. Thus, we hypothesize that glucose or glycolytic metabolites are utilized in the peroxisome by an as yet unidentified enzyme or regulate a pathway required by the fungus in the absence of peroxisomes.
Idnurm, A; Giles, SS; Perfect, JR; Heitman, J
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