Myosins are a family of actin-based motor proteins found in many organisms and are categorized into classes based on their structures. Class II and V myosins are known to be important for critical cellular processes, including cytokinesis, endocytosis, exocytosis, and organelle trafficking, in the model fungi Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Aspergillus nidulans However, the roles of myosins in the growth and virulence of the pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus are unknown. We constructed single- and double-deletion strains of the class II and class V myosins in A. fumigatus and found that while the class II myosin (myoB) is dispensable for growth, the class V myosin (myoE) is required for proper hyphal extension; deletion of myoE resulted in hyperbranching and loss of hyphal polarity. Both myoB and myoE are necessary for proper septation, conidiation, and conidial germination, but only myoB is required for conidial viability. Infection with the ΔmyoE strain in the invertebrate Galleria mellonella model and also in a persistently immunosuppressed murine model of invasive aspergillosis resulted in hypovirulence, while analysis of bronchoalveolar lavage fluid revealed that tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) release and cellular infiltration were similar compared to those of the wild-type strain. The ΔmyoE strain showed fungal growth in the murine lung, while the ΔmyoB strain exhibited little fungal burden, most likely due to the reduced conidial viability. These results show, for the first time, the important role these cytoskeletal components play in the growth of and disease caused by a known pathogen, prompting future studies to understand their regulation and potential targeting for novel antifungal therapies.
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