Pneumocystis carinii (Pc) ?-glucans are major components of the organism cell wall; yet, the regulation of Pc cell wall genesis and remodeling is not well understood. Ace2 transcription factors, which are present in many fungi, regulate glucanases and other enzymes needed for cell wall remodeling. The cloning and heterologous expression of PcAce2 in ace2? Saccharomyces cerevisiae demonstrated that PcAce2 can restore the defective glucanase and endochitinase gene expression of the mutant as well as regulate cell wall ?-glucan biosynthetic genes. Furthermore, when a reconstructed yeast system was used, PcAce2 activated the transcription of the Pneumocystis gsc1 ?-glucan synthetase, confirming the activity of a Pc transcription factor on a native Pneumocystis promoter and gene for the first time. We further observed that Pneumocystis binding to host extracellular matrix proteins and lung epithelial cells induced the phosphorylation (activation) of the PcAce2 transcription factor. Finally, we present a novel method that confirms the role of PcAce2 in modulating organism virulence using ace2? Candida glabrata infection in neutropenic mice. Together, these results indicate that the adherence of Pc to lung matrix proteins and epithelial cells leads to the activation of the Ace2 transcription factor, which regulates cell wall degradation and biosynthesis genes that are required for cell wall remodeling.
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