Polyploid titan cells produce haploid and aneuploid progeny to promote stress adaptation

Aleeza C. Gerstein, Man Shun Fu, Liliane Mukaremera, Zhongming Li, Kate L. Ormerod, James A. Fraser, Judith Berman, Kirsten Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Cryptococcus neoformans is a major life-threatening fungal pathogen. In response to the stress of the host environment, C. neoformans produces large polyploid titan cells. Titan cell production enhances the virulence of C. neoformans, yet whether the polyploid aspect of titan cells is specifically influential remains unknown. We show that titan cells were more likely to survive and produce offspring under multiple stress conditions than typical cells and that even their normally sized daughters maintained an advantage over typical cells in continued exposure to stress. Although polyploid titan cells generated haploid daughter cell progeny upon in vitro replication under nutrient-replete conditions, titan cells treated with the antifungal drug fluconazole produced fluconazole-resistant diploid and aneuploid daughter cells. Interestingly, a single titan mother cell was capable of generating multiple types of aneuploid daughter cells. The increased survival and genomic diversity of titan cell progeny promote rapid adaptation to new or high-stress conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere01340-15
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2015

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