pH Response Genes in Cryptococcus neoformans

Hannah Finson1 and Dr. Michael Price2, 1Department of Biology and Chemistry and 2Department of Molecular and Cellular Sciences, Liberty University, 1971 University Blvd, Lynchburg, VA 24515

Cryptococcus neoformans is a fungal pathogen that can be fatal for people with immuno-deficiency disorders, such as HIV/AIDS. C. neoformans infects the lungs and travels to the central nervous system, where it causes potentially fatal meningoencephalitis if untreated. C. neoformans is known to be able to influence host responses to those that are favorable for growth and survival. During infection, C. neoformans encounters large changes in pH from acidic in the environment to basic in the host to acidic in the macrophage phagolysosome. pH adaptation occurs in C. neoformans through the Rim pathway in fungi. First, the pathogen moves from the generally acidic exterior environment and enters the slightly alkaline environment of the human body. This induces alkaline-specific protein production to maintain cellular processes so the cells can survive. Investigators at Duke University identified several C. neoformans genes that play a role in this process through a screen of Rim pathway-related mutants. One of the genes identified is the putative sterol regulatory element-binding protein cleavage activating protein CNAG_01580. Using overlap PCR, a gene deletion construct for the C. neoformans CNAG_01580 gene was constructed. This construct will be introduced into wild-type C. neoformans via electroporation, and alterations in virulence-related traits will be assessed. Furthermore, a murine infection model will be used to analyze the effect these genes have on virulence. If these genes have a significant effect on virulence, they will present interesting new targets for antifungal therapy. 

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Hannah Finson

Institution: Liberty University

Type: Poster

Subject: Microbiology

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 8
Date/Time: Tue 5:00pm-6:00pm
Session Number: 5666