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Mol Microbiol. 2007 Feb;63(4):1118-30.

A Ras1-Cdc24 signal transduction pathway mediates thermotolerance in the fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans.

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Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical CenterDurham, NC 27710, USA.


Pathogenic microorganisms must precisely regulate morphogenesis to survive and proliferate within an infected host. This regulation is often controlled by conserved signal transduction pathways that direct morphological changes in varied species. One such pathway, whose components include Ras proteins and the PAK kinase Ste20, allows the human fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans to grow at high temperature. Previously, we found that Ras1 signalling is required for differentiation, thermotolerance and pathogenesis in C. neoformans. We show here that the guanine nucleotide exchange factor Cdc24 is a Ras1 effector in C. neoformans to mediate the ability of this fungus to grow at high temperature and to cause disease. In addition, we provide evidence that the Ras1-Cdc24 signalling cascade functions specifically through one of the three Cdc42/Rac1 homologues in C. neoformans. In conclusion, our studies illustrate how components of conserved signalling cascades can be specialized for different downstream functions, such as pathogenesis.

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