Molecular cloning, phylogenetic analysis and three-dimensional modeling of Cu,Zn superoxide dismutase (CnSOD1) from three varieties of Cryptococcus neoformans Academic Article uri icon


  • Cryptococcus neoformans (Cn), causal agent of fungal meningoencephalitis, has three varieties with variable host predilection. To explore mechanisms for these pathogenic differences, we have characterized Cu,Zn SOD gene (CnSOD1). A Saccharomyces cerevisiae sod1Delta mutant was complemented with Cn var. grubii yeast expression library. The complementing clone had an ORF of 462 bp and the deduced 154 aa sequence showed 61% identity with S. cerevisiae SOD1 and 53-65% with other eukaryotic SOD1s. Cn var. grubii CnSOD1 cDNA was used to clone corresponding cDNAs from var. neoformans and var. gattii. ORFs from three varieties revealed 20-29% differences in deduced aa (s) with a significant 6% non-synonymous aa substitution between Cn var. grubii and Cn var. gattii. Cosmid library screening and PCR cloning were used to obtain genomic SOD1, which was split by five introns with identical placements and a typical 5' splice junction sequence, GTNNGY. These introns also showed a large nt variation among the three Cn varieties. Phylogenetic analyses revealed CnSOD1 to be in a group distinct from other eukaryotic SOD1s and with a significant divergence of the var. grubii from var. gattii. The CnSOD1 -deduced protein was modeled based on the crystal structure of S. cerevisiae SOD1, which showed an excellent fit. Most of the non-synonymous aa substitutions occurred on the outside of the molecule and these may contribute to differences in antigenicity among the three varieties. Notably, Cn var. neoformans and var. gattii Cu,Zn SOD had three substitutions of glycine (Gly26, Gly92 and Gly123 for Asn26, Ser92 and Ser123) that may contribute to the observed lower thermostability of this enzyme vis-a-vis Cn var. grubii. This is the first nucleotide and structural comparison of a protein-encoding gene from the three Cn varieties, which may provide a framework for future studies on the role of Cu,Zn SOD in Cn pathogenesis.

author list (cited authors)

  • Chaturvedi, S., Hamilton, A. J., Hobby, P., Zhu, G., Lowry, C. V., & Chaturvedi, V.

citation count

  • 30

publication date

  • May 2001

published in