The rice seedling blight fungus Rhizopus microsporus and its endosymbiont Burkholderia rhizoxinica form an unusual, highly specific alliance to produce the highly potent antimitotic phytotoxin rhizoxin. Yet, it has remained a riddle how bacteria invade into the fungal cells. Genome mining for potential symbiosis factors and functional analyses revealed that a type 2 secretion system (T2SS) of the bacterial endosymbiont is required for the formation of the endosymbiosis. Comparative proteome analyses show that the T2SS releases chitinolytic enzymes (chitinase, chitosanase) and chitin-binding proteins. The genes responsible for chitinolytic proteins and T2SS components are highly expressed during infection. Through targeted gene knock-outs, sporulation assays and microscopic investigations we found that chitinase is essential for bacteria to enter hyphae. Unprecedented snapshots of the traceless bacterial intrusion were obtained using cryo-electron microscopy. Beyond unveiling the pivotal role of chitinolytic enzymes in the active invasion of a fungus by bacteria, these findings grant unprecedented insight into the fungal cell wall penetration and symbiosis formation.
- Thorsten Nürnberger, University of Tübingen, Germany
© 2014, Moebius et al.
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Bacteria and fungal cells join forces to cause rice seedling blight.
Candida albicans, an opportunistic human pathogen, poses a significant threat to human health and is associated with significant socio-economic burden. Current antifungal treatments fail, at least in part, because C. albicans can initiate a strong drug tolerance response that allows some cells to grow at drug concentrations above their minimal inhibitory concentration. To better characterize this cytoprotective tolerance program at the molecular single-cell level, we used a nanoliter droplet-based transcriptomics platform to profile thousands of individual fungal cells and establish their subpopulation characteristics in the absence and presence of antifungal drugs. Profiles of untreated cells exhibit heterogeneous expression that correlates with cell cycle stage with distinct metabolic and stress responses. At 2 days post-fluconazole exposure (a time when tolerance is measurable), surviving cells bifurcate into two major subpopulations: one characterized by the upregulation of genes encoding ribosomal proteins, rRNA processing machinery, and mitochondrial cellular respiration capacity, termed the Ribo-dominant (Rd) state; and the other enriched for genes encoding stress responses and related processes, termed the Stress-dominant (Sd) state. This bifurcation persists at 3 and 6 days post-treatment. We provide evidence that the ribosome assembly stress response (RASTR) is activated in these subpopulations and may facilitate cell survival.