Developmental regulation of the glyoxylate cycle in the human pathogen Penicillium marneffei


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Penicillium marneffei is a thermally dimorphic opportunistic human pathogen with a saprophytic filamentous hyphal form at 25°C and a pathogenic unicellular yeast form at 37°C. During infection. P. marneffei yeast cells exist intracellularly in macrophages. To cope with nutrient deprivation during the infection process, a number of pathogens employ the glyoxylate cycle to utilize fatty acids as carbon sources. The genes which constitute this pathway have been implicated in pathogenesis. To investigate acetate and fatty acid utilization, the acuD gene encoding a key glyoxylate cycle enzyme (isocitrate lyase) was cloned. The acuD gene is regulated by both carbon source and temperature in P. marneffei, being strongly induced at 37°C even in the presence of a repressing carbon source such as glucose. When introduced into the non-pathogenic monomorphic fungus Aspergillus nidulans, the P. marneffei acuD promoter only responds to carbon source. Similarly, when the A. nidulans acuD promoter is introduced into P. marneffei it only responds to carbon source suggesting that P. marneffei possesses both cis elements and trans-acting factors to control acuD by temperature. The Zn(II)2Cys6 DNA binding motif transcriptional activator FacB was cloned and is responsible for carbon source-, but not temperature-, dependent induction of acuD. The expression of acuD at 37°C is induced by AbaA, a key regulator of morphogenesis in P. marneffei, but deletion of abaA does not completely eliminate temperature-dependent induction, suggesting that acuD and the glyoxylate cycle are regulated by a complex network of factors in P. marneffei which may contribute to its pathogenicity.