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PLoS One. 2009;4(5):e5524. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0005524. Epub 2009 May 13.

Chromosomal rearrangements between serotype A and D strains in Cryptococcus neoformans.

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  • 1Department of Biology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.


Cryptococcus neoformans is a major human pathogenic fungus that can cause meningoencephalitis in immunocompromised hosts. It contains two divergent varieties, var. grubii (serotype A) and var. neoformans (serotype D), as well as hybrids (serotype AD) between these two varieties. In this study, we investigated the extent of chromosomal rearrangements between the two varieties, estimated the effects of chromosomal rearrangements on recombination frequencies, and surveyed the potential polymorphisms of the rearrangements among natural strains of the three serotypes. Through the analyses of two sequenced genomes from strains H99 (representing var. grubii) and JEC21 (representing var. neoformans), we revealed a total of 32 unambiguous chromosome rearrangements, including five translocations, nine simple inversions, and 18 complex rearrangements. Our analyses identified that overall, rearranged regions had recombination frequencies about half of those around syntenic regions. Using a direct PCR screening strategy, we examined the potential polymorphisms of 11 rearrangements among 64 natural C. neoformans strains from five countries. We found no polymorphism within var. neoformans and very limited polymorphism within var. grubii. However, strains of serotype AD showed significant polymorphism, consistent with their hybrid origins coupled with differential loss of heterozygosity. We discuss the implications of these results on the genome structure, ecology, and evolution of C. neoformans.

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