Aerobic uptake of exogenous cholesterol by ergosterol auxotrophic strains in Candida glabrata & Random and site-directed mutagenesis of ERG25 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Jennafer Marie Whybrew, Purdue University


Candida albicans and Candida glabrata are opportunistic human pathogens that are the leading cause of fungal infections, which are increasingly becoming the leading cause of sepsis in immunosuppressed individuals. C. glabrata in particular has become a significant concern due to the increase in clinical isolates that demonstrate resistance to triazole antifungal drugs, the most prevalent treatment for such infections. Triazole drugs target the ERG11 gene product and prevent C-14 demethylation of the first sterol intermediate, lanosterol, preventing the production of the pathways end product ergosterol. Ergosterol is required by yeast for cell membrane fluidity and cell signaling. Furthermore, C. glabrata, and not C. albicans, has been reported to utilize cholesterol as a supplement for growth. Although drug resistance is known to be caused by an increase in expression of drug efflux pumps, we hypothesize a second mechanism: that the overuse of triazole drugs has lead to the increase of resistance by C. glabrata through a 2-step process: 1) the accumulation of ergosterol auxotrophic mutations and 2) mutants able to take up exogenous cholesterol anaerobically in the body acquire a second mutation allowing uptake of cholesterol aerobically. Two groups of sterol auxotrophic C. glabrata clinical isolates have been reported to take up sterol aerobically but do not produce a sterol precursor. Sterol auxotrophs have been created in C. glabrata by disrupting different essential genes (ERG1, ERG7, ERG11, ERG25, and ERG27) in the ergosterol pathway to assess which ergosterol mutants will take up sterols aerobically. Random and site-directed mutagenesis was also completed in ERG25 of Saccharmoyces cerevisiae. The ERG25 gene encodes a sterol C-4 methyloxidase essential for sterol biosynthesis in plants, animals, and yeast. This gene functions in turn with ERG26 , a sterol C-3 dehydrogenase, and ERG27, a sterol C-3 keto reductase, to remove two methyl groups at the C-4 position on the sterol A ring. In S. cerevisiae, ERG25 has four putative histidine clusters, which bind non-heme iron and a C-terminal KKXX motif, which is a Golgi to ER retrieval motif. We have conducted site-directed and random mutagenesis in the S. cerevisiae wild-type strain SCY876. Site-Directed mutagenesis focused on the four histidine clusters, the KKXX C-terminal motif and other conserved amino acids among various plant, animal, and fungal species. Random mutagenesis was completed with a procedure known as gap repair and was used in an effort to find novel changes in enzyme function outside of the parameters utilized for site-directed mutagenesis. The four putative histidine clusters are expected to be essential for gene function by acting as non-heme iron binding ligands bringing in the oxygen required for the oxidation-reduction in the C-4 demethylation reaction.




Bard, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Molecular biology

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