An efficient method for homologous gene reconstitution in Cryptococcus gattii using URA5 auxotrophic marker

Srinivas D. Narasipura, Ping Ren, Madhu Dyavaiah, Ivan Auger, Vishnu Chaturvedi, Sudha Chaturvedi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Cryptococcus gattii (Cg) is an emerging pathogen of both healthy and immunocompromised patients worldwide. Understanding the molecular genetic basis of virulence and physiology of this pathogen will be critical for defining its pathogenic mechanisms. The purine biosynthetic gene, URA5 encoding orate phosphorybosyltransferase (OPRTase), has been successfully used as a selectable marker for gene disruption by transformation and homologous recombination in Cg. Here, we report the characterization of ura5 auxotrophy and URA5 reversion phenomenon at the molecular, genetic, and structural levels, and use of ura5→URA5 reversion as a tool for reconstitution of gene of interest and auxotrophic marker to their native loci. We identified a single mutation of GG128T→GAT with substitution of glycine to aspartic acid at amino acid position 43 resulting in ura5 auxotrophy. The ura5→URA5 reversion on CSM lacking uracil (CSM-U) was found to be a rare phenomenon with a reversion frequency of 0.000002%, and sequence analysis of URA5 from all the reverted strains revealed mutation of GA128T→GGT back to its ancestral state. The URA5 allele in the reverted strains was fully functional, as demonstrated by the excellent growth of these strains on medium lacking uracil, as well as by the ability of this allele to efficiently transform ura5 mutant to restore prototrophy. The deduced Cg URA5 protein modeled on the known crystal structures of OPRTase from Salmonella typhimurium (1LH0_A, 1STO) and from Escherichia coli (1ORO_A) indicated that the glycine 43 of Cg URA5 was situated on a conserved loop, and it's substitution to more globose aspartic acid may have resulted in URA5 inactivation in auxotrophic strain. The advantages of this approach for the generation of a reconstituted strain are (1) that it restores the functionality of the native URA5, (2) that it eliminates an additional biolistic delivery of exogenous URA5, and (3) that it allows easy selection of reconstituted strains with homologous integration. This strategy was successfully used for the generation of Cg can2+CAN2/URA5 homologous reconstituted strains, which grew in ambient air to the wild-type level while can2 mutant exhibited severe growth defect under similar conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)401-409
Number of pages9
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Auxotrophic marker
  • Cryptococcus gattii
  • Efficient method
  • Homologous gene reconstitution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • veterinary (miscalleneous)


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