GWT1 encoding an inositol acyltransferase homolog is required for laccase repression and stress resistance in the basidiomycete Cryptococcus neoformans

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The transcriptional expression of laccase, which has been confirmed to contribute to the virulence of Cryptococcus neoformans, is often repressed by a high concentration of glucose in many fungi, including C. neoformans. The underlying mechanism of the repression remains largely unknown. In this study, we found that a GWT1 gene that encodes a glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchor biosynthesis-related protein is required for laccase repression by glucose in the basidiomycete C. neoformans. Disruption of GWT1 with the Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated T-DNA random insertional mutagenesis (ATMT) method resulted in constitutive expression of the laccase gene LAC1 and constant melanin formation. The loss of GWT1 also dramatically affected the cell membrane integrity and stress resistance. Our results revealed a GPI-dependent glucose repression mechanism in C. neoformans, and it may be helpful for understanding the virulence of C. neoformans.

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