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Eukaryotic Cell
Year: 2008  |  Volume: 7  |  Issue: 9  |  Page No.: 1540 - 1548

The RGS Protein Crg2 Regulates Pheromone and Cyclic AMP Signaling in Cryptococcus neoformans

Gui Shen, Yan- Li Wang, Amy Whittington, Lie Li and Ping Wang    

Abstract: Crg1 and Crg2 are regulators of G-protein signaling homologs found in the human fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans. Crg1 negatively regulates pheromone responses and mating through direct inhibition of Gα subunits Gpa2 and Gpa3. It has also been proposed that Crg2 has a role in mating, as genetic crosses involving Δcrg2 mutants resulted in formation of hyperfilaments. We found that mutation of Gpa2 and Gpa3 partially suppressed the hyperfilamentation, mutation of Gpa3 alleviated Δcrg2-specfic cell swelling, and mutation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase Cpk1 blocked both processes. These findings indicate that Gpa2 and Gpa3 function downstream of Crg2 and that Gpa3 is also epistatic to Crg2 in a Cpk1-dependent morphogenesis process linked to mating. Significantly, we found that Δcrg2 mutants formed enlarged capsules that mimic cells expressing a constitutively active GPA1(Q284L) allele and that the levels of intracellular cyclic AMP (cAMP) were also elevated, suggesting that Crg2 also negatively regulates the Gpa1-cAMP signaling pathway. We further showed that Crg2 interacted with Gpa3 and Gpa1, but not Gpa2, in a pulldown assay and that Crg2 maintained a higher in vitro GTPase-activating protein activity toward Gpa3 and Gpa1 than to Gpa2. Finally, we found that dysregulation of cAMP due to the Crg2 mutation attenuated virulence in a murine model of cryptococcosis. Taken together, our study reveals Crg2 as an RGS (regulator of G-protein signaling) protein of multiregulatory function, including one that controls mating distinctly from Crg1 and one that serves as a novel inhibitor of Gpa1-cAMP signaling.

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