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Front. Microbiol. | doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.02313

Comparative study on alternative splicing in human fungal pathogens suggests its involvement during host invasion

  • 1Department of Bioinformatics, Faculty of Biological Sciences, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität-Jena, Germany
  • 2Research group Systems Biology / Bioinformatics, Leibniz-Institut für Naturstoff-Forschung und Infektionsbiologie, Hans Knöll Institut, Germany
  • 3Institute for Bacterial Infections and Zoonoses, Friedrich Loeffler Institut, Germany

Alternative splicing (AS) is an important regulatory mechanism in eukaryotes but only little is known about its impact in fungi. Human fungal pathogens are of high clinical interest causing recurrent or life-threatening infections. AS can be well-investigated genome-wide and quantitatively with the powerful technology of RNA-Seq.
Here, we systematically studied AS in human fungal pathogens based on RNA-Seq data. To do so, we investigated its effect in seven fungi during conditions simulating \textit{ex vivo} infection processes and during \textit{in vitro} stress. Genes undergoing AS are species-specific and act independently from differentially expressed genes pointing to an independent mechanism to change abundance and functionality. \textit{Candida} species stand out with a low number of introns with higher and more varying lengths and more alternative splice sites. Moreover, we identified a functional difference between infection-related and other stress conditions: During stress, AS affects more genes and is involved in diverse regulatory functions. In contrast, during infection-related conditions, genes undergoing AS have membrane functionalities and might be involved in the interaction with the host. We assume that AS plays a crucial regulatory role in pathogenic fungi and is important in response to both infection-related and stress conditions.

Keywords: Alternative splicing (AS), Human fungal pathogens, RNA-Seq, Comparative analaysis, host-pathogen interaction

Received: 15 Jul 2018; Accepted: 11 Sep 2018.

Edited by:

Sibao Wang, Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences (CAS), China

Reviewed by:

Jorge Amich, University of Manchester, United Kingdom
Zheng Wang, Yale University, United States  

Copyright: © 2018 Sieber, Voigt, Kämmer, Brunke, Schuster and Linde. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Ms. Patricia Sieber, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität-Jena, Department of Bioinformatics, Faculty of Biological Sciences, Jena, Germany, patricia.sieber@uni-jena.de