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Nat Microbiol. 2018 Jun;3(6):698-707. doi: 10.1038/s41564-018-0160-4. Epub 2018 May 21.

Cryptococcus neoformans sexual reproduction is controlled by a quorum sensing peptide.

Tian X1, He GJ1, Hu P1,2, Chen L1,2, Tao C3, Cui YL4, Shen L1, Ke W1,2, Xu H1, Zhao Y5, Xu Q6, Bai F1, Wu B4, Yang E3, Lin X5, Wang L7,8.

Author information

1
State Key Laboratory of Mycology, Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.
2
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.
3
Department of Microbiology, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Peking University Health Science Center, Beijing, China.
4
CAS Key Laboratory of Microbial Physiological and Metabolic Engineering, Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.
5
Department of Microbiology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA.
6
College of Life Science, Northeast Forestry University, Harbin, China.
7
State Key Laboratory of Mycology, Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China. wanglq@im.ac.cn.
8
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China. wanglq@im.ac.cn.

Abstract

Bacterial quorum sensing is a well-characterized communication system that governs a large variety of collective behaviours. By comparison, quorum sensing regulation in eukaryotic microbes remains poorly understood, especially its functional role in eukaryote-specific behaviours, such as sexual reproduction. Cryptococcus neoformans is a prevalent fungal pathogen that has two defined sexual cycles (bisexual and unisexual) and is a model organism for studying sexual reproduction in fungi. Here, we show that the quorum sensing peptide Qsp1 serves as an important signalling molecule for both forms of sexual reproduction. Qsp1 orchestrates various differentiation and molecular processes, including meiosis, the hallmark of sexual reproduction. It activates bisexual mating, at least in part through the control of pheromone, a signal necessary for bisexual activation. Notably, Qsp1 also plays a major role in the intercellular regulation of unisexual initiation and coordination, in which pheromone is not strictly required. Through a multi-layered genetic screening approach, we identified the atypical zinc finger regulator Cqs2 as an important component of the Qsp1 signalling cascade during both bisexual and unisexual reproduction. The absence of Cqs2 eliminates the Qsp1-stimulated mating response. Together, these findings extend the range of behaviours governed by quorum sensing to sexual development and meiosis.

PMID:
29784977
DOI:
10.1038/s41564-018-0160-4

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