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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Molecular characterization of a fungal gasdermin-like protein.

  • Author(s): Daskalov, Asen
  • Mitchell, Patrick S
  • Sandstrom, Andrew
  • Vance, Russell E
  • Glass, N Louise
  • et al.

Programmed cell death (PCD) in filamentous fungi prevents cytoplasmic mixing following fusion between conspecific genetically distinct individuals (allorecognition) and serves as a defense mechanism against mycoparasitism, genome exploitation, and deleterious cytoplasmic elements (i.e., senescence plasmids). Recently, we identified regulator of cell death-1 (rcd-1), a gene controlling PCD in germinated asexual spores in the filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa rcd-1 alleles are highly polymorphic and fall into two haplogroups in N. crassa populations. Coexpression of alleles from the two haplogroups, rcd-1-1 and rcd-1-2, is necessary and sufficient to trigger a cell death reaction. Here, we investigated the molecular bases of rcd-1-dependent cell death. Based on in silico analyses, we found that RCD-1 is a remote homolog of the N-terminal pore-forming domain of gasdermin, the executioner protein of a highly inflammatory cell death reaction termed pyroptosis, which plays a key role in mammalian innate immunity. We show that RCD-1 localizes to the cell periphery and that cellular localization of RCD-1 was correlated with conserved positively charged residues on predicted amphipathic α-helices, as shown for murine gasdermin-D. Similar to gasdermin, RCD-1 binds acidic phospholipids in vitro, notably, cardiolipin and phosphatidylserine, and interacts with liposomes containing such lipids. The RCD-1 incompatibility system was reconstituted in human 293T cells, where coexpression of incompatible rcd-1-1/rcd-1-2 alleles triggered pyroptotic-like cell death. Oligomers of RCD-1 were associated with the cell death reaction, further supporting the evolutionary relationship between gasdermin and rcd-1 This report documents an ancient transkingdom relationship of cell death execution modules involved in organismal defense.

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