Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 12139628
Mol. Microbiol. 2002 Aug;45(3):837-49
The capsule of Cryptococcus neoformans is the most obvious virulence factor of this pathogenic yeast. The main capsule constituents are glucuronoxylomannans (GXM). Although several studies have focused on GXM composition and structure, very little is known about their genetics. To elucidate the relationship between the capsule structure and the pathophysiology of the cryptococcosis, genetic screening for mutant strains producing a structurally modified capsule was set up. Using monoclonal antibodies specific for different capsule sugar epitopes, we isolated strains with different mutated capsule structures (Cas mutants). According to their reactivities with various monoclonal antibodies, the mutants were classified into six groups (Cas1 to Cas6). One Cas2 mutant was used to clone the corresponding gene by complementation. This gene (USX1) encodes the previously identified UDP-xylose synthase. We demonstrated that it is necessary for both capsule xylosylation and C. neoformans virulence.