Open Access Research

Histoplasma capsulatum proteome response to decreased iron availability

Michael S Winters1*, Daniel S Spellman2, Qilin Chan3, Francisco J Gomez4, Margarita Hernandez5, Brittany Catron3, Alan G Smulian4, Thomas A Neubert2 and George S Deepe14

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH 45267, USA

2 Department of Pharmacology and Kimmel Center for Biology and Medicine at the Skirball Institute, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY 10016, USA

3 Department of Chemistry, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221-0172, USA

4 Veterans Affairs Hospital, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH 45267, USA

5 Department of Biology, University of Texas at San Antonio, One UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249-006, USA

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Proteome Science 2008, 6:36  doi:10.1186/1477-5956-6-36

Published: 24 December 2008

Abstract

Background

A fundamental pathogenic feature of the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum is its ability to evade innate and adaptive immune defenses. Once ingested by macrophages the organism is faced with several hostile environmental conditions including iron limitation. H. capsulatum can establish a persistent state within the macrophage. A gap in knowledge exists because the identities and number of proteins regulated by the organism under host conditions has yet to be defined. Lack of such knowledge is an important problem because until these proteins are identified it is unlikely that they can be targeted as new and innovative treatment for histoplasmosis.

Results

To investigate the proteomic response by H. capsulatum to decreasing iron availability we have created H. capsulatum protein/genomic databases compatible with current mass spectrometric (MS) search engines. Databases were assembled from the H. capsulatum G217B strain genome using gene prediction programs and expressed sequence tag (EST) libraries. Searching these databases with MS data generated from two dimensional (2D) in-gel digestions of proteins resulted in over 50% more proteins identified compared to searching the publicly available fungal databases alone. Using 2D gel electrophoresis combined with statistical analysis we discovered 42 H. capsulatum proteins whose abundance was significantly modulated when iron concentrations were lowered. Altered proteins were identified by mass spectrometry and database searching to be involved in glycolysis, the tricarboxylic acid cycle, lysine metabolism, protein synthesis, and one protein sequence whose function was unknown.

Conclusion

We have created a bioinformatics platform for H. capsulatum and demonstrated the utility of a proteomic approach by identifying a shift in metabolism the organism utilizes to cope with the hostile conditions provided by the host. We have shown that enzyme transcripts regulated by other fungal pathogens in response to lowering iron availability are also regulated in H. capsulatum at the protein level. We also identified H. capsulatum proteins sensitive to iron level reductions which have yet to be connected to iron availability in other pathogens. These data also indicate the complexity of the response by H. capsulatum to nutritional deprivation. Finally, we demonstrate the importance of a strain specific gene/protein database for H. capsulatum proteomic analysis.