Nitrogen source-dependent capsule induction in human-pathogenic cryptococcus species.
Cryptococcus neoformans and C. gattii cause meningoencephalitis and are an increasing human health threat. These pathogenic Cryptococcus species are neurotropic and persist in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of the mammalian host during infection. In order to survive in the host, pathogenic fungi must procure nutrients, such as carbon and nitrogen, from the CSF. To enhance our understanding of nutrient acquisition during central nervous system infection by Cryptococcus species, we examined the utilization of nitrogen sources available in CSF. We screened for the growth and capsule production of 817 global environmental and clinical isolates on various sources of nitrogen. Both environmental and clinical strains grew robustly on uric acid, Casamino Acids, creatinine, and asparagine as sole nitrogen sources. Urea induced the greatest magnitude of capsule induction. This induction was greater in Cryptococcus gattii than in C. neoformans. We confirmed the ability of nonpreferred nitrogen sources to increase capsule production in pathogenic species of Cryptococcus. Since urea is metabolized to ammonia and CO(2) (a known signal for capsule induction), we examined urea metabolism mutants for their transcriptional response to urea regarding capsule production. The transcriptional profile of C. neoformans under urea-supplemented conditions revealed both similar and unique responses to other capsule-inducing conditions, including both intra- and extracellular urea utilization. As one of the most abundant nitrogen sources in the CSF, the ability of Cryptococcus to import urea and induce capsule production may substantially aid this yeast's survival and propagation in the host.
Frazzitta, AE; Vora, H; Price, MS; Tenor, JL; Betancourt-Quiroz, M; Toffaletti, DL; Cheng, N; Perfect, JR
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