Chromatin profiling reveals genome stability heterogeneity in clinical isolates of the human pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus

Invasive Pulmonary aspergillosis is a life-threatening infection in immunosuppressed patients caused by the filamentous fungus Aspergillus fumigatus. Chromatin structure regulation is important for genome stability maintenance and has the potential to lead to genome rearrangements driving differences in virulence and pathogenesis of different A. fumigatus isolates. Here, we compared the chromatin activities of the most investigated clinical isolates Af293 and CEA17 and uncovered striking differences in the number, locations and expression of transposable elements.

We found evidence for higher genome instability in Af293 as compared to CEA17 and identified a spontaneous Af293 variant that exhibits gross chromosomal alterations including the loss of a 320 kb long segment in chromosome VIII and the amplification of a biosynthetic gene cluster. As a consequence of these re-arrangements, the variant shows increased secondary metabolites production, growth and virulence. Our work emphasizes genome stability heterogeneity as an evolutionary driver of A. fumigatus fitness and virulence.

Authors: Ana Cristina Colabardini, Fang Wang, Zhengqiang Miao, Lakhansing Pardeshi, Clara Valero, Patrícia Alves de Castro, Daniel Yuri Akiyama, Kaeling Tan, Luisa Czamanski Nora, Rafael Silva-Rocha, Marina Marcet-Houben, Toni Gabaldón, Taicia Fill, Koon Ho Wong, Gustavo H. Goldman