Development Stage-specific Proteomic Profiling Uncovers Small, Lineage Specific Proteins Most Abundant In the Aspergillus fumigatus Conidial Proteome.
Proteome science. 2012 Apr 30; 10: 30.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: The pathogenic mold Aspergillus fumigatus is the most frequent infectious cause of death in severely immunocompromised individuals such as leukemia and bone marrow transplant patients. Germination of inhaled conidia (asexual spores) in the host is critical for the initiation of infection, but little is known about the underlying mechanisms of this process. RESULTS: To gain insights into early germination events and facilitate the identification of potential stage-specific biomarkers and vaccine candidates, we have used quantitative shotgun proteomics to elucidate patterns of protein abundance changes during early fungal development. Four different stages were examined: dormant conidia, isotropically expanding conidia, hyphae in which germ tube emergence has just begun, and pre-septation hyphae. Cell lysates were subjected to LC-MS/MS followed by quantitative analysis using a modified spectral counting technique. This approach resulted in identification 375 unique gene products with high confidence. The most interesting discovery was the identification of 59 proteins enriched in dormant conidia including 35 proteins that have never been detected in the A. fumigatus conidial proteome such as signaling protein Pil1, chaperones BipA and calnexin, and transcription factor HapB. Additionally we found many small, Aspergillus specific proteins of unknown function including 20 hypothetical proteins. Thus, the most abundant protein, Grg1 (AFUA_5G14210), was also one of the smallest proteins detected in this study (M.W. 7,367). Among previously characterized proteins were melanin pigment and pseurotin A biosynthesis enzymes, histones H3 and H4.1, and other proteins involved in conidiation and response to oxidative or hypoxic stress. In contrast, expanding conidia, hyphae with early germ tubes, and pre-septation hyphae samples were enriched for proteins responsible for housekeeping functions, particularly translation, respiratory metabolism, amino acid and carbohydrate biosynthesis, and the tricarboxylic acid cycle. CONCLUSIONS: The observed temporal expression patterns suggest that the A. fumigatus conidia are dominated by small, lineage-specific proteins. Some of them may play key roles in host-pathogen interactions, signal transduction during conidial germination, or survival in hostile environments.