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Characterization of the APSES-family transcriptional regulators of Histoplasma capsulatum

Longo, Larissa V G, Ray, Stephanie C, Puccia, Rosana, Rappleye, Chad A
FEMS yeast research 2018 v.18 no.8
Histoplasma capsulatum, RNA, animal diseases, cell growth, cell walls, conidia, conidiation, gene expression regulation, genes, hosts, hyphae, macrophages, mice, mycelium, osmotic stress, oxidative stress, pathogens, transcription (genetics), transcription factors, virulence, yeasts
The fungal APSES protein family of transcription factors is characterized by a conserved DNA-binding motif facilitating regulation of gene expression in fungal development and other biological processes. However, their functions in the thermally dimorphic fungal pathogen Histoplasma capsulatum are unexplored. Histoplasma capsulatum switches between avirulent hyphae in the environment and virulent yeasts in mammalian hosts. We identified five APSES domain-containing proteins in H. capsulatum homologous to Swi6, Mbp1, Stu1 and Xbp1 proteins and one protein found in related Ascomycetes (APSES-family protein 1; Afp1). Through transcriptional analyses and RNA interference-based functional tests we explored their roles in fungal biology and virulence. Mbp1 serves an essential role and Swi6 contributes to full yeast cell growth. Stu1 is primarily expressed in mycelia and is necessary for aerial hyphae development and conidiation. Xbp1 is the only factor enriched specifically in yeast cells. The APSES proteins do not regulate conversion of conidia into yeast and hyphal morphologies. The APSES-family transcription factors are not individually required for H. capsulatum infection of cultured macrophages or murine infection, nor do any contribute significantly to resistance to cellular stresses including cell wall perturbation, osmotic stress, oxidative stress or antifungal treatment. Further studies of the downstream genes regulated by the individual APSES factors will be helpful in revealing their functional roles in H. capsulatum biology.