The iron-responsive, GATA-type transcription factor Cir1 influences mating in Cryptococcus neoformans

Mol Cells. 2011 Jan;31(1):73-7. doi: 10.1007/s10059-011-0011-0. Epub 2010 Nov 25.


Mating and sexual development have been associated with virulence in various fungal pathogens including Cryptococcus neoformans. This fungus is a significant pathogen of humans because it causes life-threatening cryptococcal meningitis in immunocompromised people such as AIDS patients. The virulence of C. neoformans is known to be associated with the mating type of the cells (α or a), with the α mating type being predominant among clinical isolates. However, the mechanisms by which mating and sexual development are controlled by environmental conditions and their relationship with virulence require further investigation. Cir1 is a GATA-type transcription factor that regulates the expression of genes required for utilization of essential metals such as iron and copper, and also genes required for major virulence factors including the polysaccharide capsule and melanin. Here we investigated the role of Cir1 in the mating of C. neoformans. Our results demonstrate that mutants lacking CIR1 are defective in mating, and that Cir1 contributes to copper mediated enhancement of sexual filamentation. Furthermore, we found that Cir1 influences the expression of mating pheromone genes suggesting that this protein plays a role in the early phase of sexual development on V8 mating medium.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Copper / metabolism
  • Copper / pharmacology
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / metabolism*
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / pathogenicity
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / physiology
  • Fungal Proteins / genetics
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism*
  • GATA Transcription Factors / genetics
  • GATA Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Genes, Mating Type, Fungal
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional
  • Phenotype
  • Pheromones / genetics
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Fungal Proteins
  • GATA Transcription Factors
  • Pheromones
  • Copper
  • Iron