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Identification and Characterization of Two Conserved Factors Controlling Temperature-Regulated Development and Spore Formation in Histoplasma capsulatum


The human fungal pathogen Histoplasma capsulatum grows in a sporulating filamentous form in the soil and, after inhalation of infectious spores, converts to a pathogenic yeast form inside host macrophages in response to temperature. Here we report the identification of two new genes (RYP2 and RYP3) required for yeast-phase growth. Ryp2 and Ryp3 are homologous to each other and to the Velvet A family of regulatory proteins in Aspergillus species and other filamentous fungi. Wild-type H. capsulatum grows as filaments at room temperature and yeast cells at 37°C, but ryp2 and ryp3 mutants constitutively grow as filaments independent of temperature. RYP2 and RYP3 transcripts accumulate to higher levels at 37°C than at room temperature. This differential expression is similar to the previously identified RYP1 transcript, which encodes a transcriptional regulator required for the yeast-phase expression program. Ryp1 associates with the upstream region of RYP2, and each of the three RYP genes is required for the differential expression of the others at 37°C. In addition to responding to the elevated temperature of the mammalian host, RYP2 and RYP3 are essential for viable spore production and regulation of sporulation at room temperature. This regulatory function is strikingly similar to the role of the Aspergillus Velvet A protein family in spore development in response to light, with the notable distinction that the H. capsulatum circuit responds to temperature.

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