Transcriptomic Analysis of Extracellular RNA Governed by the Endocytic Adaptor Protein Cin1 of Cryptococcus deneoformans

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© Copyright © 2020 Liu, Zhang, Ding, Wang, Kelly and Wang. Membrane vesicles are considered virulence cargoes as they carry capsular and melanin components whose secretory transport is critical for the virulence of the human fungal pathogen Cryptococcus species. However, other components of the vesicles and their function in the growth and virulence of the fungus remain unclear. We have previously found that the cryptococcal intersectin protein Cin1 governs a unique Cin1-Wsp1-Cdc42 endocytic pathway required for intracellular transport and virulence. Using RNA sequencing, we compared the profiles of extracellular RNA (exRNA), including microRNA (miRNA), small interference RNA (siRNA), long noncoding RNA (lncRNA), and messenger RNA (mRNA) between the wild-type (WT), and derived Δcin1 mutant strains of Cryptococcus deneoformans. Seven hundred twelve miRNAs and 88 siRNAs were identified from WT, whereas 799 miRNAs and 66 siRNAs were found in Δcin1. Also, 572 lncRNAs and 7,721 mRNAs were identified from WT and 584 lncRNAs and 7,703 mRNAs from Δcin1. Differential expression analysis revealed that the disruption of CIN1 results in many important cellular changes, including those in exRNA expression, transport, and function. First, for miRNA target genes, Gene Ontology (GO) and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathway enrichment analysis revealed that cellular processes, components, and macromolecular functions are the most affected pathways. A higher number of genes were involved in the intracellular transport of endocytosis. Second, the results of GO term and KEGG analysis of differentially expressed lncRNA target genes and mRNA genes were consistent with those of miRNA targets. In particular, protein export is the topmost affected pathway among lncRNA target genes and one of the affected pathways among mRNA genes. The result of quantitative real-time reverse transcription PCR (qRT-PCR) from 12 mRNAs tested is largely agreeable with that of RNA-Seq. Taken together, our studies provide a comprehensive reference that Cryptococcus secretes abundant RNAs and that Cin1 plays a critical role in regulating their secretion. Given the growing clinical importance of exRNAs, our studies illuminate the significance of exploring this cutting-edge technology in studies of cryptococcal pathogenesis for the discovery of novel therapeutic strategies.

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Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology

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