Comparison of myristoyl-CoA:protein N-myristoyltransferases from three pathogenic fungi: Cryptococcus neoformans, Histoplasma capsulatum, and Candida albicans

Jennifer K. Lodge, Robin L. Johnson, Robin A. Weinberg, Jeffrey I. Gordon

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92 Scopus citations


Myristoyl-CoA:protein N-myristoyltransferase (Nmt) transfers myristate from CoA to the N-terminal Gly residue of cellular proteins in an ordered reaction mechanism that first involves binding of myristoyl-CoA to the apoenzyme. The gene encoding Saccharomyces cerevisiae Nmt1p (NMT1) is essential for vegetative growth. Candida albicans, Cryptococcus neoformans var. neoformans, and Histoplasma capsulatum are the principal causes of systemic fungal infections in immunocompromised humans. Metabolic labeling studies indicate that they synthesize a small set of cellular N- myristoylproteins during exponential growth on rich media, the most prominent of which co-migrate with two essential functionally interchangeable S. cerevisiae N-myristoylproteins, ADP ribosylation factor-1 (Arf1p) and Arf2p. NMT and ARF genes have been recovered from C. neoformans and H. capsulatum using the polymerase chain reaction. They are single copy genes, interrupted by multiple introns. C. neoformans and H. capsulatum Nmts have ~50% amino acid sequence identity with the orthologous S. cerevisiae, C. albicans, and Homo sapiens N-myristoyltransferases, whereas C. neoformans and H. capsulatum Arfs are ~80% identical with C. albicans Arf and S. cerevisiae Arf1p and Arf2p. Functional studies of C. neoformans and C. albicans Nmts conducted in Escherichia coli reveal that (i) both efficiently acylate S. cerevisiae Arf2p; (ii) C. neoformans Arf is a substrate for C. neoformans Nmt; and (iii) substitution of an Asp for a Gly located 5 residues from the C terminus of these two enzymes causes marked temperature-dependent reductions in their catalytic efficiency, just as it does with S. cerevisiae and H. sapiens Nmts. Wild type C. neoformans, C. albicans, and H. sapiens NMTs can fully complement the lethal phenotype of a S. cerevisiae nmt1 null allele at 24 and 37 °C when the GAL1-10 promoter controlling their expression is induced by galactose. Only the C. albicans enzyme is able to do so when the promoter is repressed with glucose. This complementation profile likely arises, at least in part, from differences in the protein substrate specificities of the orthologous Nmts. A Gly → Asp mutation in S. cerevisiae, C. neoformans, C. albicans, and H. sapiens Nmts produces temperature-sensitive growth arrest in isogenic S. cerevisiae strains with a nmt1 null allele. Growth of strains producing the mutant C. albicans or H. sapiens, but not the C. neoformans, enzyme can be rescued by myristate at the non-permissive temperature (37 °C) even in the presence of cerulenin, an inhibitor of fatty acid synthetase. These latter observations suggest that C. neoformans nmt487D's requirements for, or ability to access to, myristoyl-CoA in S. cerevisiae may differ from those of the Candida or human enzymes. Together, these results emphasize that S. cerevisiae provides an attractive surrogate environment for evaluating functional similarities and differences among orthologous Nmts and for identifying mutant alleles of fungal NMTs that can be used to determine whether protein N-myristoylation is required to maintain the viability of these organisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2996-3009
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 28 1994

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