A fungus-specific glucosylceramide (GlcCer), which contains a unique sphingoid base possessing two double bonds and a methyl substitution, is essential for pathogenicity in fungi. Although the biosynthetic pathway of the GlcCer has been well elucidated, little is known about GlcCer catabolism because a GlcCer-degrading enzyme (glucocerebrosidase) has yet to be identified in fungi. We found a homologue of endoglycoceramidase tentatively designated endoglycoceramidase-related protein 1 (EGCrP1) in several fungal genomic databases. The recombinant EGCrP1 hydrolyzed GlcCer but not other glycosphingolipids, whereas endoglycoceramidase hydrolyzed oligosaccharide- linked glycosphingolipids but not GlcCer. Disruption of egcrp1 in Cryptococcus neoformans, a typical pathogenic fungus causing cryptococcosis, resulted in the accumulation of fungus-specific GlcCer and immature GlcCer that possess sphingoid bases without a methyl substitution concomitant with a dysfunction of polysaccharide capsule formation. These results indicated that EGCrP1 participates in the catabolism of GlcCer and especially functions to eliminate immature GlcCer in vivo that are generated as by-products due to the broad specificity of GlcCer synthase. We conclude that EGCrP1, a glucocerebrosidase identified for the first time in fungi, controls the quality of GlcCer by eliminating immature GlcCer incorrectly generated in C. neoformans, leading to accurate processing of fungus-specific GlcCer.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology