Cryptococcus neoformans is a heterothallic fungal pathogen of humans and animals. Although the fungus grows primarily as a yeast, hyphae are produced during the sexual phase and during a process called monokaryotic fruiting, which is also believed to involve sexual reproduction, but between cells of the same mating type. Here we report a novel monokaryotic fruiting mechanism that is dependent on the cell cycle and occurs in haploid cells in the absence of sexual reproduction. Cells grown at 37°C were found to rapidly produce hyphae (∼4 hrs) and at high frequency (∼40% of the population) after inoculation onto hyphae-inducing agar. Microscopic examination of the 37°C seed culture revealed a mixture of normal-sized and enlarged cells. Micromanipulation of single cells demonstrated that only enlarged cells were able to produce hyphae and genetic analysis confirmed that hyphae did not arise from α-α mating or endoduplication. Cell cycle analysis revealed that cells grown at 37°C had an increased population of cells in G2 arrest, with the proportion correlated with the frequency of monokaryotic fruiting. Cell sorting experiments demonstrated that enlarged cells were only found in the G2-arrested population and only this population contained cells able to produce hyphae. Treatment of cells at low temperature with the G2 cell cycle arrest agent, nocodazole, induced hyphal growth, confirming the role of the cell cycle in this process. Taken together, these results reveal a mating-independent mechanism for monokaryotic fruiting, which is dependent on the cell cycle for induction of hyphal competency.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology