The CCAAT-binding heme activator protein (HAP) complex, comprising the DNA-binding heterotrimeric complex Hap2/3/5 and transcriptional activation subunit HapX, is a key regulator of iron homeostasis, mitochondrial functions, and pathogenicity in Cryptococcus neoformans, which causes fatal meningoencephalitis. However, its role in the development of human fungal pathogens remains unclear. To elucidate the role of the HAP complex in C. neoformans development, we constructed hap2D, hap3D, hap5D, and hapXD mutants and their complemented congenic MATa H99 and MATa YL99a strains. The HAP complex plays a conserved role in iron utilization and stress responses in cells of both mating types. Deletion of any of the HAP complex components markedly enhances filamentation during bisexual mating. However, the Hap2/3/5 complex, but not HapX, is crucial in repressing pheromone production and cell fusion and is thus a critical repressor of sexual differentiation of C. neoformans. Interestingly, deletion of the heterotrimeric complex transcriptionally regulated both positive and negative regulators in the pheromone-responsive Cpk1 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway. Chromatin immunoprecipitation-quantitative PCR analysis revealed that the HAP complex physically bound to the CCAAT motif of the CRG1 and GPA2 promoter regions. Notably, the HAP complex was differentially localized depending on the mating type in basal conditions; it was enriched in the nuclei of MATa cells but diffused in the cytoplasm of MATa cells. Interestingly, however, a portion of the HAP complex in both mating types relocalized to the cell membrane during mating. In conclusion, the Hap2/3/5 heterotrimeric complex and HapX play major and minor roles, respectively, in repressing the sexual development of C. neoformans in association with the Cpk1 MAPK pathway.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Won Hee Jung and Eunsoo Do from Chung-Ang University for providing the strains used in this study. This work was supported by grants (2021M3A9I4021434 and 2021R1A2B5B03086596) from the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT).
This work was supported by grants (2021M3A9I4021434 and 2021R1A2B5B03086596) from the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT).
© 2022 Kim and Bahn.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology