Environment factors can influence mitochondrial inheritance in the fungus Cryptococcus neoformans
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Cryptococcus neoformans is a model basidiomycete yeast. Strains of this species belong to one of two mating types: mating type a (MATa) or mating type alpha (MATalpha). In typical crosses between MATa and MATalpha strains, the progeny inherit mitochondria from the MATa parent. However, the underlying mechanisms remain largely unknown. To help elucidate the molecular mechanisms, we examined the effects of four environmental factors on the patterns of mtDNA inheritance. These factors are temperature, UV irradiation, and the addition of either the methylation inhibitor 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-adc) or the ubiquitination inhibitor ammonium chloride. Except temperature, the other three factors have been shown to influence organelle inheritance during sexual mating in other eukaryotes. Our results indicate that while the application of 5-adc or ammonium chloride did not influence mtDNA inheritance in C. neoformans, both UV irradiation and high temperature treatments did. Progeny from a cross involving a high temperature-sensitive mutant with the calcineurin subunit A gene deleted showed biparental mtDNA inheritance in all examined temperatures, consistent with a role of calcineurin and temperature in mtDNA inheritance. Furthermore, the zygote progeny population from a cross performed at a high-temperature environment had a greater variability in their vegetative fitness than that from the same cross conducted at a low temperature. Our results indicate a potentially adaptive role of biparental mtDNA inheritance and mtDNA recombination in certain environments in C. neoformans.
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