Unique and evolutionarily conserved signaling pathways allow an organism to sense, respond to, and adapt to internal and external environmental cues at its biological niche. In eukaryotic cells, the unfolded protein response (UPR) pathway regulates endoplasmic reticulum (ER) homeostasis upon exposure to environmental changes causing ER stress. The UPR pathway of Cryptococcus neoformans, an opportunistic fungal pathogen, which causes life-threatening meningoencephalitis in immunocompromised individuals, consists of the evolutionarily conserved Ire1 kinase, a unique bZIP transcription factor, Hxl1, and the ER-resident molecular chaperone Kar2/BiP. Although the Cryptococcus UPR pathway regulates ER stress, antifungal drug resistance, and virulence in an Ire1/ Hxl1-dependent manner, Ire1 has Hxl1-independent roles in capsule biosynthesis and thermotolerance. In this review, we highlight the conserved and unique features of the Cryptococcus UPR pathway compared with other fungal UPR systems and its importance in the pathogenesis of cryptococcosis and discuss future challenges in this field.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grants, 2008-0061963, 2010-0024569, 2010-0029117, and 2012-0001150, funded by the Korea government (MEST).
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Microbiology (medical)
- Infectious Diseases