A Fungal Homologue of Neuronal Calcium sensor-1, Bbcsa1, Regulates Extracellular Acidification and Contributes to Virulence in the Entomopathogenic Fungus Beauveria Bassiana

Microbiology. 2012 Jul;158(Pt 7):1843-1851. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.058867-0. Epub 2012 Apr 13.


Neuronal calcium sensor proteins and their homologues participate in transducing extracellular signals that affect intracellular Ca(2+) levels, which in turn regulate enzyme activities, secretion, gene expression and other biological processes. The filamentous fungus Beauveria bassiana is a broad-host-range pathogen of insects that acidifies the extracellular milieu during growth and pathogenesis towards target hosts. A collection of B. bassiana random insertion mutants were screened on pH indicator plates and one mutant was isolated that displayed reduced acidification. The random insertion site was mapped to a gene that displayed homology to the neuronal calcium sensor/frequenin protein family and was designated Bbcsa1. To validate the role of Bbcsa1 in B. bassiana, a targeted gene-knockout was constructed. Data confirmed that Bbcsa1 was not an essential gene and the ΔBbcsa1 strain displayed delayed acidification of the medium when grown in Czapek-Dox medium, as compared with the wild-type parent. HPLC profiling of secreted metabolites did not detect any major changes in the production of organic acids, although downregulation of the membrane H(+) pump/ATPase was noted in the mutant. A slight growth-deficient phenotype was observed for the ΔBbcsa1 strain on Czapek-Dox and potato dextrose media, which was accentuated at high calcium concentrations (500 mM) and 1.5 M sorbitol, but was unaffected by EDTA or SDS. Perturbations in vacuole morphology were also noted for the mutant. Insect bioassays using Galleria mellonella as the target host revealed decreased virulence in the ΔBbcsa1 mutant when applied topically, representing the natural route of infection, but no significant effect was observed when fungal cells were directly injected into target hosts. These results suggest that Bbcsa1 participates in pre-penetration or early penetration events, but is dispensable once the insect cuticle has been breached.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Beauveria / genetics*
  • Beauveria / pathogenicity*
  • Carboxylic Acids / metabolism
  • Culture Media / chemistry
  • DNA, Fungal / chemistry
  • DNA, Fungal / genetics
  • Fungal Proteins / genetics*
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal*
  • Gene Knockout Techniques
  • Lepidoptera / microbiology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional
  • Neuronal Calcium-Sensor Proteins / genetics*
  • Neuronal Calcium-Sensor Proteins / metabolism
  • Neuropeptides / genetics*
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Survival Analysis
  • Virulence
  • Virulence Factors / biosynthesis


  • Carboxylic Acids
  • Culture Media
  • DNA, Fungal
  • Fungal Proteins
  • Neuronal Calcium-Sensor Proteins
  • Neuropeptides
  • Virulence Factors
  • frequenin calcium sensor proteins

Associated data

  • GENBANK/DT368258
  • GENBANK/JQ317159