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Filamentous fungi produce a diverse array of secondary metabolites (SMs) critical for defense, virulence, and communication. The metabolic pathways that produce SMs are found in contiguous gene clusters in fungal genomes, an atypical arrangement for metabolic pathways in other eukaryotes. Comparative studies of filamentous fungal species have shown that SM gene clusters are often either highly divergent or uniquely present in one or a handful of species, hampering efforts to determine the genetic basis and evolutionary drivers of SM gene cluster divergence. Here, we examined SM variation in 66 cosmopolitan strains of a single species, the opportunistic human pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus. Investigation of genome-wide within-species variation revealed 5 general types of variation in SM gene clusters: nonfunctional gene polymorphisms; gene gain and loss polymorphisms; whole cluster gain and loss polymorphisms; allelic polymorphisms, in which different alleles corresponded to distinct, nonhomologous clusters; and location polymorphisms, in which a cluster was found to differ in its genomic location across strains. These polymorphisms affect the function of representative A. fumigatus SM gene clusters, such as those involved in the production of gliotoxin, fumigaclavine, and helvolic acid as well as the function of clusters with undefined products. In addition to enabling the identification of polymorphisms, the detection of which requires extensive genome-wide synteny conservation (e.g., mobile gene clusters and nonhomologous cluster alleles), our approach also implicated multiple underlying genetic drivers, including point mutations, recombination, and genomic deletion and insertion events as well as horizontal gene transfer from distant fungi. Finally, most of the variants that we uncover within A. fumigatus have been previously hypothesized to contribute to SM gene cluster diversity across entire fungal classes and phyla. We suggest that the drivers of genetic diversity operating within a fungal species shown here are sufficient to explain SM cluster macroevolutionary patterns.
The opportunistic fungal pathogen acquires essential metals from the host, yet the host can sequester these micronutrients through a process known as nutritional immunity. How the host withholds metals from has been poorly understood; here we examine the role of calprotectin (CP), a transition metal binding protein. When CP depletes bioavailable Zn from the extracellular environment, strongly upregulates and for Zn import and maintains constant intracellular Zn through numerous cell divisions. We show for the first time that CP can also sequester Cu by binding Cu(II) with subpicomolar affinity. CP blocks fungal acquisition of Cu from serum and induces a Cu starvation stress response involving and superoxide dismutases. These transcriptional changes are mirrored when invades kidneys in a mouse model of disseminated candidiasis, although the responses to Cu and Zn limitations are temporally distinct. The Cu response progresses throughout 72 h, while the Zn response is short-lived. Notably, these stress responses were attenuated in CP null mice, but only at initial stages of infection. Thus, Zn and Cu pools are dynamic at the host-pathogen interface and CP acts early in infection to restrict metal nutrients from .
Copyright © 2018 American Society for Microbiology.
Aspergillus fumigatus, a ubiquitous human fungal pathogen, produces asexual spores (conidia), which are the main mode of propagation, survival and infection of this human pathogen. In this study, we present the molecular characterization of a novel regulator of conidiogenesis and conidial survival called MybA because the predicted protein contains a Myb DNA binding motif. Cellular localization of the MybA::Gfp fusion and immunoprecipitation of the MybA::Gfp or MybA::3xHa protein showed that MybA is localized to the nucleus. RNA sequencing data and a uidA reporter assay indicated that the MybA protein functions upstream of wetA, vosA and velB, the key regulators involved in conidial maturation. The deletion of mybA resulted in a very significant reduction in the number and viability of conidia. As a consequence, the ΔmybA strain has a reduced virulence in an experimental murine model of aspergillosis. RNA-sequencing and biochemical studies of the ΔmybA strain suggested that MybA protein controls the expression of enzymes involved in trehalose biosynthesis as well as other cell wall and membrane-associated proteins and ROS scavenging enzymes. In summary, MybA protein is a new key regulator of conidiogenesis and conidial maturation and survival, and plays a crucial role in propagation and virulence of A. fumigatus.
© 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Bridging cellular reproduction and survival is essential for all life forms. Aspergillus fungi primarily reproduce by forming asexual spores called conidia, whose formation and maturation is governed by the central genetic regulatory circuit BrlA→AbaA→WetA. Here, we report that WetA is a multi-functional regulator that couples spore differentiation and survival, and governs proper chemical development in Aspergillus flavus. The deletion of wetA results in the formation of conidia with defective cell walls and no intra-cellular trehalose, leading to reduced stress tolerance, a rapid loss of viability, and disintegration of spores. WetA is also required for normal vegetative growth, hyphal branching, and production of aflatoxins. Targeted and genome-wide expression analyses reveal that WetA exerts feedback control of brlA and that 5,700 genes show altered mRNA levels in the mutant conidia. Functional category analyses of differentially expressed genes in ΔwetA RNA-seq data indicate that WetA contributes to spore integrity and maturity by properly regulating the metabolic pathways of trehalose, chitin, α-(1,3)-glucan, β-(1,3)-glucan, melanin, hydrophobins, and secondary metabolism more generally. Moreover, 160 genes predicted to encode transcription factors are differentially expressed by the absence of wetA, suggesting that WetA may play a global regulatory role in conidial development. Collectively, we present a comprehensive model for developmental control that bridges spore differentiation and survival in A. flavus.
With some advances in modern medicine (such as cancer chemotherapy, broad exposure to antibiotics, and immunosuppression), the incidence of opportunistic fungal pathogens such as has increased. Cases of drug resistance among these pathogens have become more frequent, requiring the development of new drugs and a better understanding of the targeted enzymes. Sterol 14α-demethylase (CYP51) is a cytochrome P450 enzyme required for biosynthesis of sterols in eukaryotic cells and is the major target of clinical drugs for managing fungal pathogens, but some of the CYP51 key features important for rational drug design have remained obscure. We report the catalytic properties, ligand-binding profiles, and inhibition of enzymatic activity of CYP51 by clinical antifungal drugs that are used systemically (fluconazole, voriconazole, ketoconazole, itraconazole, and posaconazole) and topically (miconazole and clotrimazole) and by a tetrazole-based drug candidate, VT-1161 (oteseconazole: ()-2-(2,4-difluorophenyl)-1,1-difluoro-3-(1-tetrazol-1-yl)-1-(5-(4-(2,2,2-trifluoroethoxy)phenyl)pyridin-2-yl)propan-2-ol). Among the compounds tested, the first-line drug fluconazole was the weakest inhibitor, whereas posaconazole and VT-1161 were the strongest CYP51 inhibitors. We determined the X-ray structures of CYP51 complexes with posaconazole and VT-1161, providing a molecular mechanism for the potencies of these drugs, including the activity of VT-1161 against and , pathogens that are intrinsically resistant to fluconazole. Our comparative structural analysis outlines phylum-specific CYP51 features that could direct future rational development of more efficient broad-spectrum antifungals.
© 2017 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.
Sensing and responding to environmental cues is critical to the lifestyle of filamentous fungi. How environmental variation influences fungi to produce a wide diversity of ecologically important secondary metabolites (SMs) is not well understood. To address this question, we first examined changes in global gene expression of the opportunistic human pathogen, Aspergillus fumigatus, after exposure to different temperature conditions. We found that 11 of the 37 SM gene clusters in A. fumigatus were expressed at higher levels at 30° than at 37°. We next investigated the role of the light-responsive Velvet complex in environment-dependent gene expression by examining temperature-dependent transcription profiles in the absence of two key members of the Velvet protein complex, VeA and LaeA We found that the 11 temperature-regulated SM gene clusters required VeA at 37° and LaeA at both 30 and 37° for wild-type levels of expression. Interestingly, four SM gene clusters were regulated by VeA at 37° but not at 30°, and two additional ones were regulated by VeA at both temperatures but were substantially less so at 30°, indicating that the role of VeA and, more generally of the Velvet complex, in the regulation of certain SM gene clusters is temperature-dependent. Our findings support the hypothesis that fungal secondary metabolism is regulated by an intertwined network of transcriptional regulators responsive to multiple environmental factors.
Copyright © 2016 Lind et al.
Ascomycete yeasts are metabolically diverse, with great potential for biotechnology. Here, we report the comparative genome analysis of 29 taxonomically and biotechnologically important yeasts, including 16 newly sequenced. We identify a genetic code change, CUG-Ala, in Pachysolen tannophilus in the clade sister to the known CUG-Ser clade. Our well-resolved yeast phylogeny shows that some traits, such as methylotrophy, are restricted to single clades, whereas others, such as l-rhamnose utilization, have patchy phylogenetic distributions. Gene clusters, with variable organization and distribution, encode many pathways of interest. Genomics can predict some biochemical traits precisely, but the genomic basis of others, such as xylose utilization, remains unresolved. Our data also provide insight into early evolution of ascomycetes. We document the loss of H3K9me2/3 heterochromatin, the origin of ascomycete mating-type switching, and panascomycete synteny at the MAT locus. These data and analyses will facilitate the engineering of efficient biosynthetic and degradative pathways and gateways for genomic manipulation.
Aspergillus fumigatus is the opportunistic fungal pathogen that predominantly affects the immunocompromised population and causes 600,000 deaths/year. The cytochrome P450 51 (CYP51) inhibitor voriconazole is currently the drug of choice, yet the treatment efficiency remains low, calling for rational development of more efficient agents. A. fumigatus has two CYP51 genes, CYP51A and CYP51B, which share 59% amino acid sequence identity. CYP51B is expressed constitutively, whereas gene CYP51A is reported to be inducible. We expressed, purified, and characterized A. fumigatus CYP51B, including determination of its substrate preferences, catalytic parameters, inhibition, and x-ray structure in complexes with voriconazole and the experimental inhibitor (R)-N-(1-(2,4-dichlorophenyl)-2-(1H-imidazol-1-yl)ethyl)-4-(5-phenyl-1,3,4-oxadiazol-2-yl)benzamide (VNI). The enzyme demethylated its natural substrate eburicol and the plant CYP51 substrate obtusifoliol at steady-state rates of 17 and 16 min(-1), respectively, but did not metabolize lanosterol, and the topical antifungal drug miconazole was the strongest inhibitor that we identified. The x-ray crystal structures displayed high overall similarity of A. fumigatus CYP51B to CYP51 orthologs from other biological kingdoms but revealed phylum-specific differences relevant to enzyme catalysis and inhibition. The complex with voriconazole provides an explanation for the potency of this relatively small molecule, whereas the complex with VNI outlines a direction for further enhancement of the efficiency of this new inhibitory scaffold to treat humans afflicted with filamentous fungal infections.
© 2015 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.
Quantitative proteomics using LC-MS has emerged as an essential tool for addressing different biological questions. Various labelling methods have been effectively employed for quantitative proteomics studies. However, these are fraught with several challenges, including reproducibility and the number of samples that can be analysed at a given time. To this end, unlabelled proteomics is a promising field, and the recently developed sequential window acquisition of all theoretical fragment ion spectra (SWATH-MS) method aims to address these limitations. In this study, we compared SWATH-MS to isobaric tag for relative and absolute quantitation (iTRAQ), a widely used labelled method for relative quantitation. For this, we used yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, since almost all its proteins are identified. More importantly, the abundance of each protein is well documented. We found that although a similar number of proteins could be quantitated using the two techniques, SWATH had the advantage of quantifying a larger percentage of low abundance proteins (below 60 ppm). Thus, based on our analysis, we believe that these two techniques are complementary and can synergistically improve the number of quantifiable proteins. SWATH's ability to quantify low abundant proteins could be an asset in biomarker discovery studies.
The highly ordered and reproducible structure of the fungal prion HET-s makes it an excellent model system for studying the inherent properties of prions, self-propagating infectious proteins that have been implicated in a number of fatal diseases. In particular, the HET-s prion-forming domain readily folds into a relatively complex two-rung β-solenoid amyloid. The faithful self-propagation of this fold involves a diverse array of inter- and intramolecular structural features. These features include a long flexible loop connecting the two rungs, buried polar residues, salt bridges, and asparagine ladders. We have used site-directed mutagenesis and X-ray fiber diffraction to probe the relative importance of these features for the formation of β-solenoid structure, as well as the cumulative effects of multiple mutations. Using fibrillization kinetics and chemical stability assays, we have determined the biophysical effects of our mutations on the assembly and stability of the prion-forming domain. We have found that a diversity of structural features provides a level of redundancy that allows robust folding and stability even in the face of significant sequence alterations and suboptimal environmental conditions. Our findings provide fundamental insights into the structural interactions necessary for self-propagation. Propagation of prion structure seems to require an obligatory level of complexity that may not be reproducible in short peptide models.