The monothiol glutaredoxin GrxD is essential for sensing iron starvation in Aspergillus fumigatus.
Efficient adaptation to iron starvation is an essential virulence determinant of the most common human mold pathogen, Aspergillus fumigatus. Here, we demonstrate that the cytosolic monothiol glutaredoxin GrxD plays an essential role in iron sensing in this fungus. Our studies revealed that (i) GrxD is essential for growth; (ii) expression of the encoding gene, grxD, is repressed by the transcription factor SreA in iron replete conditions and upregulated during iron starvation; (iii) during iron starvation but not iron sufficiency, GrxD displays predominant nuclear localization; (iv) downregulation of grxD expression results in de-repression of genes involved in iron-dependent pathways and repression of genes involved in iron acquisition during iron starvation, but did not significantly affect these genes during iron sufficiency; (v) GrxD displays protein-protein interaction with components of the cytosolic iron-sulfur cluster biosynthetic machinery, indicating a role in this process, and with the transcription factors SreA and HapX, which mediate iron regulation of iron acquisition and iron-dependent pathways; (vi) UV-Vis spectra of recombinant HapX or the complex of HapX and GrxD indicate coordination of iron-sulfur clusters; (vii) the cysteine required for iron-sulfur cluster coordination in GrxD is in vitro dispensable for interaction with HapX; and (viii) there is a GrxD-independent mechanism for sensing iron sufficiency by HapX; (ix) inactivation of SreA suppresses the lethal effect caused by GrxD inactivation. Taken together, this study demonstrates that GrxD is crucial for iron homeostasis in A. fumigatus.