Yong-Sun Bahn

Abstracts

4 Comparative Functional Analysis of Two Major Sterol-Biosynthesis Regulating Transcription Factors, Hob1 and Sre1, in Pathogenic Cryptococcus Species Complex

Authors: Yong-Sun Bahn, Dong-Gi Lee, Suyeon Cha

Abstract:

Sterol lipid is essential for cell membrane structure in eukaryotic cells. In mammalian cells, sterol regulatory element binding proteins (SREBPs) act as principal regulators of cellular cholesterol which is essential for proper cell membrane fluidity and structure. SREBP and sterol regulation are related to levels of cellular oxygen because it is a major substrate for sterol synthesis. Upon cellular sterol and oxygen levels are depleted, SREBP is translocated to the Golgi where it undergoes proteolytic cleavage of N terminus, then it travels to the nucleus to play a role as transcription factor. In yeast cells, synthesis of ergosterol is also highly oxygen consumptive, and Sre1 is a transcription factor known to play a central role in adaptation to growth under low oxygen condition and sterol homeostasis in Cryptococcus neoformans. In this study, we observed phenotypes in other strains of Cryptococcus species by constructing hob1Δ and sre1Δ mutants to confirm whether the functions of both genes are conserved in most serotypes. As a result, hob1Δ showed no noticeable phenotype under treatment of antifungal drugs and most environmental stresses in R265 (C. gattii) and XL280 (C. neoformans), suggesting that Hob1 is related to sterol regulation only in H99 (serotype A). On the other hand, the function of Sre1 was found to be conserved in most serotypes. Furthermore, mating experiment of hob1Δ or sre1Δ showed dramatic defects in serotype A (H99) and D (XL280). It revealed that Hob1 and Sre1 related to mating ability in Cryptococcus species, especially cell fusion efficiency. In conclusion, HOB1 and SRE1 play crucial role in regulating sterol-homeostasis and differentiation in C. neoformans, moreover, Hob1 is specific gene in Cryptococcus neoformans. It suggests that Hob1 is considered as potent factor-targeted new safety antifungal drug.

Keywords: cryptococcus neoformans, Hob1, Sre1, sterol regulatory element binding proteins

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3 Unravelling of the TOR Signaling Pathway in Human Fungal Pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans

Authors: Yong-Sun Bahn, Yee-Seul So, Guiseppe Ianiri, Alex Idnurm

Abstract:

Tor1 is a serine/threonine protein kinase that is widely conserved across eukaryotic species. Tor1 was first identified in Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a target of rapamycin (TOR). The TOR pathway has been implicated in regulating cellular responses to nutrients, proliferation, translation, transcription, autophagy, and ribosome biogenesis. Here we identified two homologues of S. cerevisiae Tor proteins, CNAG_06642 (Tor1) and CNAG_05220 (Tlk1, TOR-like kinase 1), in Cryptococcus neoformans causing a life-threatening fungal meningoencephalitis. Both Tor1 and Tlk1 have rapamycin-binding (RB) domains but Tlk1 has truncated RB form. To study the TOR-signaling pathway in the fungal pathogen, we attempt to construct the tor1Δ and tlk1Δ mutants and phenotypically analyze them. Although we failed to construct the tor1Δ mutant, we successfully construct the tlk1Δ mutant. The tlk1Δ mutant does not exhibit any discernable phenotypes, suggesting that Tlk1 is dispensable in C. neoformans. The essentiality of TOR1 is independently confirmed by constructing the TOR1 promoter replacement strain by using a copper transporter 4 (CTR4) promoter and the TOR1/tor1 heterozygous mutant in diploid C. neoformans strain background followed by sporulation analysis. To further analyze the function of Tor1, we construct TOR1 overexpression mutant using a constitutively active histone H3 in C. neoformans. We find that the Tor1 overexpression mutant is resistant to rapamycin but the tlk1Δ mutant does not exhibit any altered resistance to rapamycin, further confirming that Tor1, but not Tlk1, is critical for TOR signaling. Furthermore, we found that Tor1 is involved in response to diverse stresses, including genotoxic stress, oxidative stress, thermo-stress, antifungal drug treatment, and production of melanin. To identify any TOR-related transcription factors, we screened C. neoformans transcription factor library that we constructed in our previous study and identified several potential downstream factors of Tor1, including Atf1, Crg1 and Bzp3. In conclusion, the current study provides insight into the role of the TOR signaling pathway in human fungal pathogens as well as C. neoformans.

Keywords: Transcription Factor, serine/threonine kinase, fungal pathogen, target of rapamycin

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2 Genome-Wide Functional Analysis of Phosphatase in Cryptococcus neoformans

Authors: Kyung-Tae Lee, Yong-Sun Bahn, Jae-Hyung Jin, Yee-Seul So, Eunji Jeong, Yeonseon Lee, Dongpil Lee, Dong-Gi Lee

Abstract:

Cryptococcus neoformans causes cryptococcal meningoencephalitis mainly in immunocompromised patients as well as immunocompetent people. But therapeutic options are limited to treat cryptococcosis. Some signaling pathways including cyclic AMP pathway, MAPK pathway, and calcineurin pathway play a central role in the regulation of the growth, differentiation, and virulence of C. neoformans. To understand signaling networks regulating the virulence of C. neoformans, we selected the 114 putative phosphatase genes, one of the major components of signaling networks, in the genome of C. neoformans. We identified putative phosphatases based on annotation in C. neoformans var. grubii genome database provided by the Broad Institute and National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) and performed a BLAST search of phosphatases of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Aspergillus nidulans, Candida albicans and Fusarium graminearum to Cryptococcus neoformans. We classified putative phosphatases into 14 groups based on InterPro phosphatase domain annotation. Here, we constructed 170 signature-tagged gene-deletion strains through homologous recombination methods for 91 putative phosphatases. We examined their phenotypic traits under 30 different in vitro conditions, including growth, differentiation, stress response, antifungal resistance and virulence-factor production.

Keywords: Functional Genomics, human fungal pathogen, phosphatase, deletion library

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1 CAP-Glycine Protein Governs Growth, Differentiation, and the Pathogenicity of Global Meningoencephalitis Fungi

Authors: Kyung-Tae Lee, Li Li Wang, Kwang-Woo Jung, Yong-Sun Bahn

Abstract:

Microtubules are involved in mechanical support, cytoplasmic organization as well as in a number of cellular processes by interacting with diverse microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs), such as plus-end tracking proteins, motor proteins, and tubulin-folding cofactors. A common feature of these proteins is the presence of a cytoskeleton-associated protein-glycine-rich (CAP-Gly) domain, which is evolutionarily conserved and generally considered to bind to α-tubulin to regulate functions of microtubules. However, there has been a dearth of research on CAP-Gly proteins in fungal pathogens, including Cryptococcus neoformans, which causes fatal meningoencephalitis globally. In this study, we identified five CAP-Gly proteins encoding genes in C. neoformans. Among these, Cgp1, encoded by CNAG_06352, has a unique domain structure that has not been reported before in other eukaryotes. Supporting the role of Cpg1 in microtubule-related functions, we demonstrate that deletion or overexpression of CGP1 alters cellular susceptibility to thiabendazole, a microtubule destabilizer, and Cgp1 is co-localized with cytoplasmic microtubules. Related to the cellular functions of microtubules, Cgp1 also governs maintenance of membrane stability and genotoxic stress responses. Furthermore, we demonstrate that Cgp1 uniquely regulates sexual differentiation of C. neoformans with distinct roles in the early and late stage of mating. Our domain analysis reveals that the CAP-Gly domain plays major roles in all the functions of Cgp1. Finally, the cgp1Δ mutant is attenuated in virulence. In conclusion, this novel CAP-Gly protein, Cgp1, has pleotropic roles in regulating growth, stress responses, differentiation and pathogenicity of C. neoformans.

Keywords: human fungal pathogen, CAP-Glycine protein, microtubule, meningoencephalitis

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