Identification of hypoxia-inducible target genes of Aspergillus fumigatus by transcriptome analysis reveals cellular respiration as an important contributor to hypoxic survival

Kristin Kroll, Vera Pähtz, Falk Hillmann, Yakir Vaknin, Wolfgang Schmidt-Heck, Martin Roth, Ilse D. Jacobsen, Nir Osherov, Axel A. Brakhage, Olaf Kniemeyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Aspergillus fumigatus is an opportunistic, airborne pathogen that causes invasive aspergillosis in immunocompromised patients. During the infection process, A. fumigatus is challenged by hypoxic microenvironments occurring in inflammatory, necrotic tissue. To gain further insights into the adaptation mechanism, A. fumigatus was cultivated in an oxygen-controlled chemostat under hypoxic and normoxic conditions. Transcriptome analysis revealed a significant increase in transcripts associated with cell wall polysaccharide metabolism, amino acid and metal ion transport, nitrogen metabolism, and glycolysis. A concomitant reduction in transcript levels was observed with cellular trafficking and G-protein-coupled signaling. To learn more about the functional roles of hypoxia-induced transcripts, we deleted A. fumigatus genes putatively involved in reactive nitrogen species detoxification (fhpA), NAD+ regeneration (frdA and osmA), nitrogen metabolism (niaD and niiA), and respiration (rcfB). We show that the nitric oxygen (NO)-detoxifying flavohemoprotein gene fhpA is strongly induced by hypoxia independent of the nitrogen source but is dispensable for hypoxic survival. By deleting the nitrate reductase gene niaD, the nitrite reductase gene niiA, and the two fumarate reductase genes frdA and osmA, we found that alternative electron acceptors, such as nitrate and fumarate, do not have a significant impact on growth of A. fumigatus during hypoxia, but functional mitochondrial respiratory chain complexes are essential under these conditions. Inhibition studies indicated that primarily complexes III and IV play a crucial role in the hypoxic growth of A. fumigatus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1241-1253
Number of pages13
JournalEukaryotic Cell
Volume13
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2014

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