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Eukaryot Cell. 2012 Jan;11(1):16-25. doi: 10.1128/EC.05274-11. Epub 2011 Nov 23.

SRE1 regulates iron-dependent and -independent pathways in the fungal pathogen Histoplasma capsulatum.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA.


Regulation of iron acquisition genes is critical for microbial survival under both iron-limiting conditions (to acquire essential iron) and iron-replete conditions (to limit iron toxicity). In fungi, iron acquisition genes are repressed under iron-replete conditions by a conserved GATA transcriptional regulator. Here we investigate the role of this transcription factor, Sre1, in the cellular responses of the fungal pathogen Histoplasma capsulatum to iron. We showed that cells in which SRE1 levels were diminished by RNA interference were unable to repress siderophore biosynthesis and utilization genes in the presence of abundant iron and thus produced siderophores even under iron-replete conditions. Mutation of a GATA-containing consensus site found in the promoters of these genes also resulted in inappropriate gene expression under iron-replete conditions. Microarray analysis comparing control and SRE1-depleted strains under conditions of iron limitation or abundance revealed both iron-responsive genes and Sre1-dependent genes, which comprised distinct but overlapping sets. Iron-responsive genes included those encoding putative oxidoreductases, metabolic and mitochondrial enzymes, superoxide dismutase, and nitrosative-stress-response genes; Sre1-dependent genes were of diverse functions. Genes regulated by iron levels and Sre1 included all of the siderophore biosynthesis genes, a gene involved in reductive iron acquisition, an iron-responsive transcription factor, and two catalases. Based on transcriptional profiling and phenotypic analyses, we conclude that Sre1 plays a critical role in the regulation of both traditional iron-responsive genes and iron-independent pathways such as regulation of cell morphology. These data highlight the evolving realization that the effect of Sre1 orthologs on fungal biology extends beyond the iron regulon.

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