Inducible Cell Fusion Permits Use of Competitive Fitness Profiling in the Human Pathogenic Fungus Aspergillus fumigatus.


Macdonald D, Thomson DD, Johns A, Contreras Valenzuela A, Gilsenan JM, Lord KM, Bowyer P, Denning DW, Read ND, Bromley MJ.
Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2018 Dec 21;63(1). pii: e01615-18.


Antifungal agents directed against novel therapeutic targets are required for treating invasive, chronic, and allergic Aspergillus infections. Competitive fitness profiling technologies have been used in a number of bacterial and yeast systems to identify druggable targets; however, the development of similar systems in filamentous fungi is complicated by the fact that they undergo cell fusion and heterokaryosis. Here, we demonstrate that cell fusion in Aspergillus fumigatus under standard culture conditions is not predominately constitutive, as with most ascomycetes, but can be induced by a range of extracellular stressors. Using this knowledge, we have developed a barcode-free genetic profiling system that permits high-throughput parallel determination of strain fitness in a collection of diploid A. fumigatus mutants. We show that heterozygous cyp51A and arf2 null mutants have reduced fitness in the presence of itraconazole and brefeldin A, respectively, and a heterozygous atp17 null mutant is resistant to brefeldin A.