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Mol Microbiol. 2008 Oct;70(1):127-39. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2008.06395.x. Epub 2008 Aug 11.

The Histoplasma capsulatum vacuolar ATPase is required for iron homeostasis, intracellular replication in macrophages and virulence in a murine model of histoplasmosis.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH, USA.


Histoplasma capsulatum is a dimorphic fungal pathogen that survives and replicates within macrophages (Mphi). To identify specific genes required for intracellular survival, we utilized Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated mutagenesis, and screened for H. capsulatum insertional mutants that were unable to survive in human Mphi. One colony was identified that had an insertion within VMA1, the catalytic subunit A of the vacuolar ATPase (V-ATPase). The vma1 mutant (vma1::HPH) grew normally on iron-replete medium, but not on iron-deficient media. On iron-deficient medium, the growth of the vma1 mutant was restored in the presence of wild-type (WT) H. capsulatum yeasts, or the hydroxamate siderophore, rhodotorulic acid. However, the inability to replicate within Mphi was only partially restored by the addition of exogenous iron. The vma1::HPH mutant also did not grow as a mold at 28 degrees C. Complementation of the mutant (vma/VMA1) restored its ability to replicate in Mphi, grow on iron-poor medium and grow as a mold at 28 degrees C. The vma1::HPH mutant was avirulent in a mouse model of histoplasmosis, whereas the vma1/VMA1 strain was as pathogenic as WT yeasts. These studies demonstrate the importance of V-ATPase function in the pathogenicity of H. capsulatum, in iron homeostasis and in fungal dimorphism.

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