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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Lipid rafts in Cryptococcus neoformans concentrate the virulence determinants phospholipase B1 and Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase.

Lipid rafts have been identified in the membranes of mammalian cells, the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and the pathogenic fungus Candida albicans. Formed by a lateral association of sphingolipids and sterols, rafts concentrate proteins carrying a glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchor. We report the isolation of membranes with the characteristics of rafts from the fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans. These characteristics include insolubility in Triton X-100 (TX100) at 4 degrees C, more-buoyant density within a sucrose gradient than the remaining membranes, and threefold enrichment with sterols. The virulence determinant phospholipase B1 (PLB1), a GPI-anchored protein, was highly concentrated in raft membranes and could be displaced from them by treatment with the sterol-sequestering agent methyl-beta-cyclodextrin (MbetaCD). Phospholipase B enzyme activity was inhibited in the raft environment and increased 15-fold following disruption of rafts with TX100 at 37 degrees C. Treatment of viable cryptococcal cells in suspension with MbetaCD also released PLB1 protein and enzyme activity, consistent with localization of PLB1 in plasma membrane rafts prior to secretion. The antioxidant virulence factor Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1) was concentrated six- to ninefold in raft membrane fractions compared with nonraft membranes, whereas the cell wall-associated virulence factor laccase was not detected in membranes. We hypothesize that raft membranes function to cluster certain virulence factors at the cell surface to allow efficient access to enzyme substrate and/or to provide rapid release to the external environment.[1]


  1. Lipid rafts in Cryptococcus neoformans concentrate the virulence determinants phospholipase B1 and Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase. Siafakas, A.R., Wright, L.C., Sorrell, T.C., Djordjevic, J.T. Eukaryotic Cell (2006) [Pubmed]
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