Mycopathologia 2012 Jun 13;173(5-6):337-46. Epub 2011 Nov 13.
Molecular Mycology Research Laboratory, Westmead, Australia.
Cryptococcus neoformans and Cryptococcus gattii are pathogenic yeasts causing meningoencephalitis in immunocompromised and immunocompetent hosts. The fungus is typically haploid, and sexual reproduction occurs normally between individuals with opposite mating types, α and a. C. neoformans var. grubii (serotype A) is comprised of molecular types VNI, VNII, and VNB, and C. neoformans var. neoformans (serotype D) contains the molecular type VNIV. Additionally, diploid or aneuploid AD hybrids (VNIII) have been reported. C. gattii contains the molecular types VGI, VGII, VGIII, and VGIV, which encompass both serotypes B and C. To identify possible hybrid strains, URA5-RFLP analysis was performed on 350 globally obtained clinical, environmental, and veterinary isolates. Four clinical isolates from cerebrospinal fluid showed combination patterns of C. neoformans var. grubii and C. gattii: Brazil (n = 2), Colombia (n = 1), and India (n = 1). These strains were monokaryotic and diploid or aneuploid. M13 PCR fingerprinting showed that they contained fragments of both proposed parental groups. Luminex IGS genotyping identified these isolates as hybrids with two different molecular type combinations: three VNI/VGII and one VNI/VGI. Blue color development on CGB agar was delayed in three isolates and absent in one. C. gattii-specific PCR confirmed the presence of C. gattii in the hybrids. CAP59 allele-specific PCR revealed that all the hybrids contained both serotype A and B alleles. Determination of mating-type allelic patterns by PCR revealed that the isolates were αA aB. This is the first study discovering novel natural hybrids between C. neoformans molecular type VNI and C. gattii molecular type VGII.