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Eukaryot Cell. 2004 Jun;3(3):752-63.

Novel chimeric spermidine synthase-saccharopine dehydrogenase gene (SPE3-LYS9) in the human pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


The Cryptococcus neoformans LYS9 gene (encoding saccharopine dehydrogenase) was cloned and found to be part of an evolutionarily conserved chimera with SPE3 (encoding spermidine synthase). spe3-lys9, spe3-LYS9, and SPE3-lys9 mutants were constructed, and these were auxotrophic for lysine and spermidine, spermidine, and lysine, respectively. Thus, SPE3-LYS9 encodes functional spermidine synthase and saccharopine dehydrogenase gene products. In contrast to Saccharomyces cerevisiae spe3 mutants, the polyamine auxotrophy of C. neoformans spe3-LYS9 mutants was not satisfied by spermine. In vitro phenotypes of spe3-LYS9 mutants included reduced capsule and melanin production and growth rate, while SPE3-lys9 mutants grew slowly at 30 degrees C, were temperature sensitive in rich medium, and died upon lysine starvation. Consistent with the importance of saccharopine dehydrogenase and spermidine synthase in vitro, spe3-lys9 mutants were avirulent and unable to survive in vivo and both functions individually contributed to virulence. SPE3-LYS9 mRNA levels showed little evidence of being influenced by exogenous spermidine or lysine or starvation for spermidine or lysine; thus, any regulation is likely to be posttranscriptional. Expression in S. cerevisiae of the full-length C. neoformans SPE3-LYS9 cDNA complemented a lys9 mutant but not a spe3 mutant. However, expression in S. cerevisiae of a truncated gene product, consisting of only C. neoformans SPE3, complemented a spe3 mutant, suggesting possible modes of regulation. Therefore, we identified and describe a novel chimeric SPE3-LYS9 gene, which may link spermidine and lysine biosynthesis in C. neoformans.

Copyright 2004 American Society for Microbiology

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