Identification and characterization of a phase-specific, nuclear DNA binding protein from the dimorphic pathogenic fungus Histoplasma capsulatum

Fatima E. Abidi, Haeri Roh, Elizabeth J. Keath

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Genes expressed in the parasitic yeast (Y) phase of the dimorphic fungal pathogen Histoplasma capsulatum which are transcriptionally silent in the mycelial (M) phase have recently been cloned and analyzed. To understand the molecular regulation of genes involved in the transition to and maintenance of the Y phase, the presumptive 5' regulatory regions of two Y phase-specific genes (yps-3 and yps 21:E-9) were PCR amplified as labelled probes to identify nuclear DNA binding proteins which may influence phase-specific gene transcription. Protein-DNA interactions were assessed by Southwestern blot analysis in which sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis- separated protein extracts from Y and M phases of the virulent G217B strain of H. capsulatum were visualized by their capability for in situ binding to the labelled 517-bp (G217B yps-3) or the 395-bp (G217B yps 21:E-9) putative 5' regulatory regions. A 30-kDa nuclear protein unique to the M-phase extracts of the highly virulent G217B strain, but absent in the Y phase of the same organism, was identified. In contrast, the low-virulence, thermal- sensitive Downs strain of H. capsulatum lacked detectable p30 binding activity in either yeast- or mycelial phase extracts, regardless of the source of labelled probe (395-bp G217B yps 21:E-9 probe or 512-bp HindIII- EcoRI-labelled Downs yps21:E-9). A decanucleotide motif, TCCTT TTTTT, was identified in the upstream regulatory regions of these yps genes, as well as in the putative α-tubulin promoter, and was conserved with 70 to 100% homology. This recognition sequence was sufficient for p30M binding with 32P-labelled ligated oligonucleotides when used in the Southwestern assay. These findings describe the first nuclear DNA binding factor identified in H. capsulatum which binds to target sequences in a phase-specific manner, suggesting that p30M may govern aspects of gene transcription in this pathogenic fungus, in which a temperature-sensitive switch influences morphology and virulence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3867-3873
Number of pages7
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1998


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