Thiol peroxidase is critical for virulence and resistance to nitric oxide and peroxide in the fungal pathogen, Cryptococcus neoformans

Mol Microbiol. 2004 Mar;51(5):1447-58. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2004.03921.x.


Cryptococcus neoformans is a fungal pathogen most commonly causing meningitis in immunocompromised patients. Current therapies are inadequate, and novel antifungal targets are needed. We have identified by proteomics two thiol peroxidases that are differentially expressed at 37 degrees C, the temperature of the mammalian host. Consistent with their antioxidant role, we show that the genes encoding these thiol-specific antioxidants, TSA1 and TSA3, are transcriptionally induced when C. neoformans is exposed to hydrogen peroxide. Genome sequence analysis of C. neoformans revealed a third thiol peroxidase, TSA4. We constructed single, double and triple mutants of the thiol peroxidase genes through homologous recombination and analysed their function by comparing the growth of these mutants with that of the wild-type strain. The tsa1 Delta mutant shows sensitivity to hydrogen peroxide and t-butylhydroperoxide, as well as significant growth retardation at 25 degrees C and 38.5 degrees C. The tsa1 Delta mutant is also sensitive to NO, demonstrating a link between oxidative and nitrosative stress pathways. In two mouse models of cryptococcosis, the tsa1 Delta mutant is significantly less virulent.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / drug effects
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / enzymology*
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / genetics
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / pathogenicity*
  • Fungal Proteins / genetics
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred CBA
  • Nitric Oxide / pharmacology*
  • Oxidants / metabolism
  • Peroxidases / genetics
  • Peroxidases / metabolism*
  • Sulfhydryl Compounds / metabolism
  • Temperature
  • Virulence
  • tert-Butylhydroperoxide / pharmacology


  • Antioxidants
  • Fungal Proteins
  • Oxidants
  • Sulfhydryl Compounds
  • Nitric Oxide
  • tert-Butylhydroperoxide
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Peroxidases