The evolutionarily conserved cyclic AMP (cAMP) signaling pathway controls cell functions in response to environmental cues in organisms as diverse as yeast and mammals. In the basidiomycetous human pathogenic fungus Cryptococcus neoformans, the cAMP pathway governs virulence and morphological differentiation. Here we identified and characterized adenylyl cyclase-associated protein, Aca1, which functions in parallel with the Gα subunit Gpa1 to control the adenylyl cyclase (Cac1). Aca1 interacted with the C terminus of Cac1 in the yeast two-hybrid system. By molecular and genetic approaches, Aca1 was shown to play a critical role in mating by regulating cell fusion and filamentous growth in a cAMP-dependent manner. Aca1 also regulates melanin and capsule production via the Cac1-cAMP-protein kinase A pathway. Genetic epistasis studies support models in which Aca1 and Gpa1 are necessary and sufficient components that cooperate to activate adenylyl cyclase. Taken together, these studies further define the cAMP signaling cascade controlling virulence of this ubiquitous human fungal pathogen.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology