Cryptococcus neoformans phosphoinositide-dependent kinase 1 (PDK1) ortholog is required for stress tolerance and survival in murine phagocytes

Yeissa Chabrier-Roselló, Kimberly J. Gerik, Kristy Koselny, Louis DiDone, Jennifer K. Lodge, Damian J. Krysan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Cryptococcus neoformans PKH2-01 and PKH2-02 are orthologous to mammalian PDK1 kinase genes. Although orthologs of these kinases have been extensively studied in S. cerevisiae, little is known about their function in pathogenic fungi. In this study, we show that PKH2-02 but not PKH2-01 is required for C. neoformans to tolerate cell wall, oxidative, nitrosative, and antifungal drug stress. Deletion ofPKH2-02 leads to decreased basal levels of Pkc1 activity and, consequently, reduced activation of the cell wall integrity mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway in response to cell wall, oxidative, and nitrosative stress. PKH2-02 function also is required for tolerance of fluconazole and amphotericin B, two important drugs for the treatment of cryptococcosis. Furthermore, OSU-03012, an inhibitor of human PDK1, is synergistic and fungicidal in combination with fluconazole. Using a Galleria mellonella model of low-temperature cryptococcosis, we found that PKH2-02 is also required for virulence in a temperature-independent manner. Consistent with the hypersensitivity of the pkh2-02A mutant to oxidative and nitrosative stress, this mutant shows decreased survival in murine phagocytes compared to that of wild-type (WT) cells. In addition, we show that deletion ofPKH2-02 affects the interaction between C. neoformans and phagocytes by decreasing its ability to suppress production of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a) and reactive oxygen species. Taken together, our studies demonstrate that Pkh2-02-mediated signaling in C. neoformans is crucial for stress tolerance, host-pathogen interactions, and both temperature-dependent and -independent virulence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-22
Number of pages11
JournalEukaryotic Cell
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


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