Mycopathologia. 2014-12-01; 178.5-6: 331-9.

Large-scale transcriptional response to hypoxia in Aspergillus fumigatus observed using RNAseq identifies a novel hypoxia regulated ncRNA

Losada L, Barker BM, Pakala S, Pakala S, Joardar V, Zafar N, Mounaud S, Fedorova N, Nierman WC, Cramer RA

PMID: 24996522


We utilized RNAseq analysis of the Aspergillus fumigatus response to early hypoxic condition exposure. The results show that more than 89% of the A. fumigatus genome is expressed under normoxic and hypoxic conditions. Replicate samples were highly reproducible; however, comparisons between normoxia and hypoxia revealed that >23 and 35% of genes were differentially expressed after 30 and 120 min of hypoxia exposure, respectively. Consistent with our previous report detailing transcriptomic and proteomic responses at later time points, the results here show major repression of ribosomal function and induction of ergosterol biosynthesis, as well as activation of alternate respiratory mechanisms at the later time point. RNAseq data were used to define 32 hypoxia-specific genes, which were not expressed under normoxic conditions. Transcripts of a C6 transcription factor and a histidine kinase-response regulator were found only in hypoxia. In addition, several genes involved in the phosphoenylpyruvate and D-glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate metabolism were only expressed in hypoxia. Interestingly, a 216-bp ncRNA Afu-182 in the 3' region of insA (AFUB_064770) was significantly repressed under hypoxia with a 40-fold reduction in expression. A detailed analysis of Afu-182 showed similarity with several genes in the genome, many of which were also repressed in hypoxia. The results from this study show that hypoxia induces very early and widely drastic genome-wide responses in A. fumigatus that include expression of protein-coding and ncRNA genes. The role of these ncRNA genes in regulating the fungal hypoxia response is an exciting future research direction.