Mitochondria are inherited from the MATa parent in crosses of the basidiomycete fungus Cryptococcus neoformans.
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Previous studies demonstrated that mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) was uniparentally transmitted in laboratory crosses of the pathogenic yeast Cryptococcus neoformans. To begin understanding the mechanisms, this study examined the potential role of the mating-type locus on mtDNA inheritance in C. neoformans. Using existing isogenic strains (JEC20 and JEC21) that differed only at the mating-type locus and a clinical strain (CDC46) that possessed a mitochondrial genotype different from JEC20 and JEC21, we constructed strains that differed only in mating type and mitochondrial genotype. These strains were then crossed to produce hyphae and sexual spores. Among the 206 single spores analyzed from six crosses, all but one inherited mtDNA from the MATa parents. Analyses of mating-type alleles and mtDNA genotypes of natural hybrids from clinical and natural samples were consistent with the hypothesis that mtDNA is inherited from the MATa parent in C. neoformans. To distinguish two potential mechanisms, we obtained a pair of isogenic strains with different mating-type alleles, mtDNA types, and auxotrophic markers. Diploid cells from mating between these two strains were selected and 29 independent colonies were genotyped. These cells did not go through the hyphal stage or the meiotic process. All 29 colonies contained mtDNA from the MATa parent. Because no filamentation, meiosis, or spore formation was involved in generating these diploid cells, our results suggest a selective elimination of mtDNA from the MATalpha parent soon after mating. To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration that mating type controls mtDNA inheritance in fungi.
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