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Infect Immun. 1997 Feb;65(2):405-11.

Identification of extracellular phospholipase B, lysophospholipase, and acyltransferase produced by Cryptococcus neoformans.

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Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.


We recently identified phospholipase activity as a potential virulence factor of Cryptococcus neoformans. We have now defined the nature of the phospholipase activity produced by a clinical isolate of C. neoformans var. neoformans, under native conditions, by 1H and 31P nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and thin-layer chromatography (TLC) of radiolabelled substrates. Glycerophosphocholine was identified by NMR spectroscopy as the sole phospholipid degradation product of the reaction between substrate phosphatidylcholine (PC) and cryptococcal culture supernatants indicating the presence of phospholipase B (PLB). No lysophosphatidylcholine (lyso-PC) or products indicative of phospholipase C, phospholipase D, or other lipase activity were identified. Use of PC and lyso-PC containing radiolabelled acyl chains and separation of products by TLC confirmed the PLB and lysophospholipase (LPL) activities. Lysophospholipase transacylase (LPTA) activity was identified by the formation of radioactive PC from lyso-PC. Extracellular enzyme production was maximal after 6 to 10 h in fresh medium. Assay conditions were optimized for pH, linearity with time, enzyme concentration, and saturation by substrates to allow comparison with phospholipases from other organisms. LPL activity was 10- to 20-fold greater than PLB activity, with mean (+/- standard deviation) specific activities of 34.9 +/- 7.9 and 3.18 +/- 0.2 micromol of substrate hydrolyzed per min per mg of protein, respectively. The response of PLB to increasing substrate concentrations was bimodal, whereas inhibition of LPL and LPTA activities occurred at concentrations of substrate lyso-PC greater than 200 microM. Enzyme activities were stable at acid pH (3.8), with pH optima of 3.5 to 4.5. Activities were unchanged in the presence of exogenous serine protease inhibitors, divalent cations, and EDTA. We conclude that C. neoformans produces highly active extracellular PLB, LPL, and LPTA under native conditions.

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