Transcriptional Heterogeneity of VGII Compared with Non-VGII Lineages Underpins Key Pathogenicity Pathways.


is a pathogenic yeast of humans and other animals which causes disease predominantly in immunocompetent hosts. Infection begins when aerosolized yeast or spores enter the body, triggering an immune response, including engulfment by macrophages. To understand the early transcriptional signals in both the yeast and its mammalian host, we performed a time-course dual-transcriptome sequencing (RNA-seq) experiment for four lineages of (lineages VGI to IV) interacting with mouse macrophages at 1, 3, and 6 h postinfection. Comparisons of to gene expression levels indicated that lineage VGII is transcriptionally divergent from non-VGII lineages, including differential expression of genes involved in capsule synthesis, capsule attachment, and ergosterol production. Several paralogous genes demonstrated subfunctionalization between lineages, including upregulation of capsule biosynthesis-related gene and downregulation of in VGIII. Isolates also compensate for lineage-specific gene losses by overexpression of genetically similar paralogs, including overexpression of capsule gene in VGIV, which have lost the gene. Differential expression of one in five genes was detected following coincubation with mouse macrophages; all isolates showed high induction of oxidative-reduction functions and downregulation of capsule attachment genes. We also found that VGII switches expression of two laccase paralogs (from to ) during coincubation of macrophages. Finally, we found that mouse macrophages respond to all four lineages of by upregulating FosB/Jun/Egr1 regulatory proteins at early time points. This report highlights the evolutionary breadth of expression profiles among the lineages of and the diversity of transcriptional responses at this host-pathogen interface. The transcriptional profiles of related pathogens and their responses to host-induced stresses underpin their pathogenicity. Expression differences between related pathogens during host interaction can indicate when and how these genes contribute to virulence, ultimately informing new and improved treatment strategies for those diseases. In this paper, we compare the transcriptional profiles of five isolates representing four lineages of in rich media. Our analyses identified key processes, including those involving cell capsule, ergosterol production, and melanin, that are differentially expressed between lineages, and we found that VGII has the most distinct profile in terms of numbers of differentially expressed genes. All lineages have also undergone subfunctionalization for several paralogs, including capsule biosynthesis and attachment genes. Most genes appeared downregulated during coincubation with macrophages, with the largest decrease observed for capsule attachment genes, which appeared to be coordinated with a stress response, as all lineages also upregulated oxidative stress response genes. Furthermore, VGII upregulated many genes that are linked to ergosterol biosynthesis and switched from expression of the laccase to expression of Finally, we saw a pronounced increase in the FosB/Jun/Egr1 regulatory proteins at early time points in bone marrow-derived macrophages, marking a role in the host response to This work highlights the dynamic roles of key virulence genes in response to macrophages.

Year of Publication
Date Published
2018 10 24
PubMed ID
PubMed Central ID
Grant list
Wellcome Trust / United Kingdom
U19 AI110818 / AI / NIAID NIH HHS / United States
MR/K000373/1 / Medical Research Council / United Kingdom