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Virulence. 2019 Dec;10(1):234-247. doi: 10.1080/21505594.2019.1596505.

The mitochondrial thiamine pyrophosphate transporter TptA promotes adaptation to low iron conditions and virulence in fungal pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus.

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a Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Microbes and Functional Genomics, Jiangsu Engineering and Technology Research Center for Microbiology, College of Life Sciences , Nanjing Normal University , Nanjing , China.
b Department of Hygiene Analysis and Detection, School of Public Health , Nanjing Medical University , Nanjing , China.
c Departments of Medicine, Microbiology & Immunology , McGill University , Montréal , QC , Canada.
d Infectious Diseases and Immunity in Global Health Program , Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre , Montreal , QC , Canada.


Aspergillus fumigatus is the most prevalent airborne fungal pathogen that causes invasive fungal infections in immunosuppressed individuals. Adaptation to iron limited conditions is crucial for A. fumigatus virulence. To identify novel genes that play roles in adaptation to low iron conditions we performed an insertional mutagenesis screen in A. fumigatus. Using this approach, we identified the tptA gene in A. fumigatus, which shares homology with the Saccharomyces cerevisiae thiamine pyrophosphate (ThPP) transporter encoding gene tpc1. Heterologous expression of tpc1 in the tptA deletion mutant completely restored the ThPP auxotrophy phenotype, suggesting that Tpc1 and TptA are functional orthologues. Importantly, TptA was required for adaptation to low iron conditions in A. fumigatus. The ΔtptA mutant had decreased resistance to the iron chelator bathophenanthroline disulfonate (BPS) with severe growth defects. Moreover, loss of tptA decreased the expression of hapX, which is a major transcription factor indispensable for adaptation to iron starvation in A. fumigatus. Overexpression of hapX in the ΔtptA strain greatly rescued the growth defect and siderophore production by A. fumigatus in iron-depleted conditions. Mutagenesis experiments demonstrated that the conserved residues related to ThPP uptake in TptA were also required for low iron adaptation. Furthermore, TptA-mediated adaptation to low iron conditions was found to be dependent on carbon sources. Finally, loss of tptA resulted in the attenuation of virulence in a murine model of aspergillosis. Taken together, this study demonstrated that the mitochondrial ThPP transporter TptA promotes low iron adaptation and virulence in A. fumigatus.


; HapX; Thiamine pyrophosphate transporter; low iron adaptation; virulence

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