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Cell Host Microbe. 2011 Mar 17;9(3):243-51. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2011.02.003.

A major role for capsule-independent phagocytosis-inhibitory mechanisms in mammalian infection by Cryptococcus neoformans.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94158-2200, USA.


The antiphagocytic polysaccharide capsule of the human fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans is a major virulence attribute. However, previous studies of the pleiotropic virulence determinant Gat201, a GATA family transcription factor, suggested that capsule-independent antiphagocytic mechanisms exist. We have determined that Gat201 controls the mRNA levels of ∼1100 genes (16% of the genome) and binds the upstream regions of ∼130 genes. Seven Gat201-bound genes encode for putative and known transcription factors--including two previously implicated in virulence--suggesting an extensive regulatory network. Systematic analysis pinpointed two critical Gat201-bound genes, GAT204 (a transcription factor) and BLP1, which account for much of the capsule-independent antiphagocytic function of Gat201. A strong correlation was observed between the quantitative effects of single and double mutants on phagocytosis in vitro and on host colonization in vivo. This genetic dissection provides evidence that capsule-independent antiphagocytic mechanisms are pivotal for successful mammalian infection by C. neoformans.

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