Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Vol.477, No.4, 706-711, 2016
The lysine biosynthetic enzyme Lys4 influences iron metabolism, mitochondrial function and virulence in Cryptococcus neoformans
The lysine biosynthesis pathway via alpha-aminoadipate in fungi is considered an attractive target for antifungal drugs due to its absence in mammalian hosts. The iron-sulfur cluster-containing enzyme homoaconitase converts homocitrate to homoisocitrate in the lysine biosynthetic pathway, and is encoded by LYS4 in the model yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In this study, we identified the ortholog of LYS4 in the human fungal pathogen, Cryptococcus neoformans, and found that LYS4 expression is regulated by iron levels and by the iron-related transcription factors Hap3 and HapX. Deletion of the LYS4 gene resulted in lysine auxotrophy suggesting that Lys4 is essential for lysine biosynthesis. Our study also revealed that lysine uptake was mediated by two amino acid permeases, Aap2 and Aap3, and influenced by nitrogen catabolite repression (NCR). Furthermore, the lys4 mutant showed increased sensitivity to oxidative stress, agents that challenge cell wall/membrane integrity, and azole antifungal drugs. We showed that these phenotypes were due in part to impaired mitochondrial function as a result of LYS4 deletion, which we propose disrupts iron homeostasis' in the organelle. The combination of defects are consistent with our observation that the lys4 mutant was attenuated virulence in a mouse inhalation model of cryptococcosis. (C) 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.