A Ferroxidase, Cfo1, Regulates Diverse Environmental Stress Responses of Cryptococcus neoformans through the HOG Pathway.

PMID 25071384


The iron uptake and utilization pathways play a critical role in allowing human pathogens, including Cryptococcus neoformans, the causative agent of fatal meningoencephalitis, to survive within the mammalian body by competing with the host for iron. Here we show that the iron regulon is also required for diverse environmental stress responses and that in C. neoformans, it is regulated by the high-osmolarity glycerol response (HOG) pathway. Between CFO1 and CFO2, two ferroxidase genes in the iron regulon, CFO1 but not CFO2 was induced during oxidative and osmotic stress. Interestingly, we found that the HOG pathway repressed basal expression of both CFO1 and CFO2. Furthermore, when the HOG pathway was blocked, CFO2 also responded to oxidative and osmotic stress and the response of CFO1 was increased. We also established that CFO1 plays a major role in responding and adapting to diverse environmental stresses, including oxidative and genotoxic damage, osmotic fluctuations, heavy metal stress, and stress induced by cell membrane destabilizers. Therefore, our findings indicate that in C. neoformans, the iron uptake and utilization pathways are not only required for iron acquisition and survival, but also play a significant role in the environmental stress response through crosstalk with the HOG pathway.