Cloning and Analysis of Mold-Specific Genes in the Dimorphic Fungus Histoplasma capsulatum

Glen Shearer, University of Southern Mississippi

Abstract

A critical feature in the pathogenesis of the respiratory pathogen Histoplasma capsulatum is the conversion from the mold form (found in soil) to the yeast form in the lungs of the host. Little is known about the molecular biology of Histoplasma dimorphism. In particular, the possible roles of genes which are transcriptionally silent in yeast (i.e. mold-specific) have not been studied. We have produced a cDNA library highly enriched for mold-upregulated clones by fragmenting cDNA and removing yeast-specific and common sequences with a highly efficient enzyme degrading subtraction method. Screening of randomly selected clones identified cDNA fragments representing 16 different mold-upregulated genes. Because multiple cDNA fragments can be treated as alleles in a genetic screen, we were able to apply probability analysis to estimate the total number of mold-upregulated genes. We estimate that there are 27 upregulated genes, cDNA fragments of 16 have been isolated. Here we report the first isolation and analysis of cDNA from two mold-specific genes, MS8 (GenBank AF292398) and MS88 (GenBank AF357882). The MS8 transcript was very strongly expressed in mold but not detected on Northern blots with yeast RNA. The putative MS8 protein was predicted to be 21.3 kDa (203 aa), very rich in glutamine and glycine and had a calculated pI of 6.76. The MS88 transcript was weakly expressed in mold and not detected in yeast. The putative MS88 protein was predicted to be 22.5 kDa (219 aa) with a pI of 4.46. GenBank similarity searches revealed that the putative MS8 protein was similar to a glutamine-rich protein, of unknown function, from the fungus Colletotrichum gloeosporioides (GenBank U94186). No significant matches were found for the putative MS88 protein. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.