A novel subtilisin-like serine protease of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis is induced by thyroid hormone and degrades antimicrobial peptides

Jose C. Thekkiniath, Masoud Zabet-Moghaddam, Susan K. San Francisco, Michael J. San Francisco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (B. dendrobatidis), a chytrid fungus, is one of the major contributors to the global amphibian decline. The fungus infects both tadpoles and adult amphibians. Tadpoles are infected in their keratinized mouthparts, and infected adults exhibit hyperkeratosis and loss of righting reflex. Infections of adults may result in death from cardiac arrest in susceptible species. Thyroid hormone plays a key role in amphibian metamorphosis. The occurrence of B. dendrobatidis in tadpoles during metamorphosis may result in exposure of the fungus to host morphogens including TH. This exposure may induce gene expression in the fungus contributing to invasion and colonization of the host. Here, we demonstrate movement of fungal zoospores toward TH. Additionally, expression of a subtilisin-like serine protease is up-regulated in B. dendrobatidis cells exposed to TH. A gene encoding this protease was cloned from B. dendrobatidis and expressed in Escherichia coli. The protein was partially purified and characterized. The similarity between subtilases of human dermatophytes and the B. dendrobatidis subtilisin-like serine protease suggests the importance of this enzyme in B. dendrobatidis pathogenicity. Cleavage of frog skin antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) by this B. dendrobatidis subtilisin-like serine protease suggests a role for this enzyme in fungal survival and colonization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-461
Number of pages11
JournalFungal Biology
Volume117
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2013

Keywords

  • Amphibian decline
  • Chemotaxis
  • Host colonization
  • Metamorphosis
  • Pathogenicity
  • Proteolytic activity

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