Cryptococcus neoformans Dual GDP-mannose transporters and their role in biology and virulence

Zhuo A. Wang, Cara L. Griffith, Michael L. Skowyra, Nichole Salinas, Matthew Williams, Ezekiel J. Maier, Stacey R. Gish, Hong Liu, Michael R. Brent, Tamara L. Doering

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Cryptococcus neoformans is an opportunistic yeast responsible for lethal meningoencephalitis in humans. This pathogen elaborates a polysaccharide capsule, which is its major virulence factor. Mannose constitutes over one-half of the capsule mass and is also extensively utilized in cell wall synthesis and in glycosylation of proteins and lipids. The activated mannose donor for most biosynthetic reactions, GDP-mannose, is made in the cytosol, although it is primarily consumed in secretory organelles. This compartmentalization necessitates specific transmembrane transporters to make the donor available for glycan synthesis. We previously identified two cryptococcal GDP-mannose transporters, Gmt1 and Gmt2. Biochemical studies of each protein expressed in Saccharomyces cerevisiae showed that both are functional, with similar kinetics and substrate specificities in vitro. We have now examined these proteins in vivo and demonstrate that cells lacking Gmt1 show significant phenotypic differences from those lacking Gmt2 in terms of growth, colony morphology, protein glycosylation, and capsule phenotypes. Some of these observations may be explained by differential expression of the two genes, but others suggest that the two proteins play overlapping but nonidentical roles in cryptococcal biology. Furthermore, gmt1 gmt2 double mutant cells, which are unexpectedly viable, exhibit severe defects in capsule synthesis and protein glycosylation and are avirulent in mouse models of cryptococcosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)832-842
Number of pages11
JournalEukaryotic Cell
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2014


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