Lysine biosynthesis in selected pathogenic fungi: Characterization of lysine auxotrophs and the cloned LYS1 gene of Candida albicans


The α-aminoadipate pathway for the biosynthesis of lysine is present only in fungi and euglena. Until now, this unique metabolic pathway has never been investigated in the opportunistic fungal pathogens Candida albicans, Cryptococcus neoformans, and Aspergillus fumigatus. Five of the eight enzymes (homocitrate synthase, homoisocitrate dehydrogenase, α-aminoadipate reductase, saccharopine reductase, and saccharopine dehydrogenase) of the α- aminoadipate pathway and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, a glycolytic enzyme used as a control, were demonstrated in wild-type cells of these organisms. All enzymes were present in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and the pathogenic organisms except C. neoformans 32608 serotype C, which exhibited no saccharopine reductase activity. The levels of enzyme activity varied considerably from strain to strain. Variation among organisms was also observed for the control enzyme. Among the pathogens, C. albicans exhibited much higher homocitrate synthase, homoisocitrate dehydrogenase, and α- aminoadipate reductase activities. Seven lysine auxotrophs of C. albicans and one of Candida tropicalis were characterized biochemically to determine the biochemical blocks and gene-enzyme relationships. Growth responses to α- aminoadipate- and lysine-supplemented media, accumulation of α-aminoadipate semialdehyde, and the lack of enzyme activity revealed that five of the mutants (WA104, WA153, WC7-1-3, WD1-31-2, and A5155) were blocked at the α- aminoadipate reductase step, two (STN57 and WD1-3-6) were blocked at the saccharopine dehydrogenase step, and the C. tropicalis mutant (X-16) was blocked at the saccharopine reductase step. The cloned LYS1 gene of C. albicans in the recombinant plasmid YpB1078 complemented saccharopine dehydrogenase (lys1) mutants of S. cerevisiae and C. albicans. The Lys1 transformed strains exhibited significant saccharopine dehydrogenase activity in comparison with untransformed mutants. The cloned LYS1 gene has been localized on a 1.8-kb HindIII DNA insert of the recombinant plasmid YpB1041RG1. These results established the gene-enzyme relationship in the second half of the α-aminoadipate pathway. The presence of this unique pathway in the pathogenic fungi could be useful for their rapid detection and control. +

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Journal of Bacteriology