Unraveling the novel structure and biosynthetic pathway of O-linked glycans in the Golgi apparatus of the human pathogenic yeast Cryptococcus neoformans [Glycobiology and Extracellular Matrices]

December 4th, 2014 by Lee, D.-J., Bahn, Y.-S., Kim, H.-J., Chung, S.-Y., Kang, H. A.

Cryptococcus neoformans is an encapsulated basidiomycete causing cryptococcosis in immunocompromised humans. The cell surface mannoproteins of C. neoformans were reported to stimulate the host T-cell response and to be involved in fungal pathogenicity; however, their O-glycan structure is uncharacterized. In this study, we performed a detailed structural analysis of the O-glycans attached to cryptococcal mannoproteins using HPLC combined with exoglycosidase treatment, and showed that the major C. neoformans O-glycans were short manno-oligosaccharides that were connected mostly by α1,2-linkages but connected by an α1,6-linkage at the third mannose residue. Comparison of the O-glycan profiles from wild-type and uxs1Δ mutant strains strongly supports the presence of minor O-glycans carrying a xylose residue. Further analyses of C. neoformans mutant strains identified three mannosyltransferase genes involved in O-glycan extensions in the Golgi. C. neoformans KTR3, the only homolog of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae KRE2/MNT1 family genes, was shown to encode an α1,2-mannosyltransferase responsible for the addition of the second mannose residue via an α1,2 linkage to the major O-glycans. C. neoformans HOC1 and HOC3, homologs of the S. cerevisiae OCH1 family genes, were shown to encode α1,6-mannosyltransferases that can transfer the third mannose residue, via an α1,6 linkage, to minor O-glycans containing xylose and to major O-glycans without xylose, respectively. Moreover, the C. neoformans ktr3Δ mutant strain, which displayed increased sensitivity to SDS, high salt, and high temperature, showed attenuated virulence in a mouse model of cryptococcosis, suggesting that the extended structure of O-glycans is required for cell integrity and full pathogenicity of C. neoformans.
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