Under appropriate conditions, haploid Cryptococcus neoformans cells can undergo a morphological switch from a budding yeast form to develop hyphae and viable basidiospores, which resemble those produced by mating. This process, known as haploid fruiting, was previously thought to occur only in MATα strains. We identified two new strains of C. neoformans var. neoformans serotype D that are MATa type and are able to haploid fruit. Further, a MATa reference strain, B-3502, also produced hyphae and fruited after prolonged incubation on filament agar. Over-expression of STE12a dramatically enhanced the ability of all MATa strains tested to filament. Segregation analysis of haploid fruiting ability confirmed that haploid fruiting is not MATα-specific. Our results indicate that MATa cells are intrinsically able to haploid fruit and previous observations that they do not were probably biased by the examination of a small number of genetically related isolates that have been maintained in the laboratory for many years.
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