Publications

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BACKGROUND: Candida albicans and Candida glabrata are the 2 most prevalent Candida species causing bloodstream infections. Patterns of innate immune activation triggered by the 2 fungi differ considerably. METHODS: To analyze human natural killer (NK) cell activation by both species, we performed ex vivo whole-blood infection assays and confrontation assays with primary human NK cells. RESULTS: C. albicans was a stronger activator for isolated human NK cells than C. glabrata. In contrast, activation of blood NK cells, characterized by an upregulated surface exposure of early activation antigen CD69 and death receptor ligand TRAIL, as well as interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) secretion, was more pronounced during C. glabrata infection. NK cell activation in blood is mediated by humoral mediators released by other immune cells and does not depend on direct activation by fungal cells. Cross-talk between Candida-confronted monocyte-derived dendritic cells (moDC) and NK cells resulted in the same NK activation phenotype as NK cells in human blood. Blocking experiments and cytokine substitution identified interleukin-12 as a critical mediator in regulation of primary NK cells by moDC. CONCLUSIONS: Activation of human NK cells in response to Candida in human blood mainly occurs indirectly by mediators released from monocytic cells.

Authors: A. Marolda, Kerstin Hünniger, S. Bottcher, W. Vivas, Jürgen Löffler, Marc Thilo Figge, Oliver Kurzai

Date Published: 11th Jun 2020

Journal: J Infect Dis

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As part of the innate immune system, natural killer (NK) cells are directly involved in the response to fungal infections. Perforin has been identified as the major effector molecule acting against many fungal pathogens. While several studies have shown that perforin mediated fungicidal effects can contribute to fungal clearance, neither the activation of NK cells by fungal pathogens nor the effects of perforin on fungal cells are well-understood. In a dual approach, we have studied the global gene expression pattern of primary and cytokine activated NK cells after co-incubation with Candida albicans and the transcriptomic adaptation of C. albicans to perforin exposure. NK cells responded to the fungal pathogen with an up-regulation of genes involved in immune signaling and release of cytokines. Furthermore, we observed a pronounced increase of genes involved in glycolysis and glycolysis inhibitor 2-deoxy-D-glucose impaired C. albicans induced NK cell activation. This strongly indicates that metabolic adaptation is a major part of the NK cell response to C. albicans infections. In the fungal pathogen, perforin induced a strong up-regulation of several fungal genes involved in the zinc depletion response, such as PRA1 and ZRT1. These data suggest that fungal zinc homeostasis is linked to the reaction to perforin secreted by NK cells. However, deletion mutants in PRA1 and ZRT1 did not show altered susceptibility to perforin.

Authors: Dragana Slavkovic Lukic, J. Voigt, M. Bouzani, Jürgen Löffler, Daniela Albrecht-Eckardt, Michael Weber, Stefanie Allert, R. Martin, Oliver Kurzai, Kerstin Hünniger

Date Published: 19th May 2016

Journal: Front Microbiol

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Cytolytic proteins and peptide toxins are classical virulence factors of several bacterial pathogens which disrupt epithelial barrier function, damage cells and activate or modulate host immune responses. Such toxins have not been identified previously in human pathogenic fungi. Here we identify the first, to our knowledge, fungal cytolytic peptide toxin in the opportunistic pathogen Candida albicans. This secreted toxin directly damages epithelial membranes, triggers a danger response signalling pathway and activates epithelial immunity. Membrane permeabilization is enhanced by a positive charge at the carboxy terminus of the peptide, which triggers an inward current concomitant with calcium influx. C. albicans strains lacking this toxin do not activate or damage epithelial cells and are avirulent in animal models of mucosal infection. We propose the name 'Candidalysin' for this cytolytic peptide toxin; a newly identified, critical molecular determinant of epithelial damage and host recognition of the clinically important fungus, C. albicans.

Authors: D. L. Moyes, D. Wilson, J. P. Richardson, S. Mogavero, S. X. Tang, J. Wernecke, S. Hofs, R. L. Gratacap, J. Robbins, M. Runglall, C. Murciano, M. Blagojevic, S. Thavaraj, Toni Förster, B. Hebecker, Lydia Kasper, G. Vizcay, S. I. Iancu, N. Kichik, A. Hader, Oliver Kurzai, T. Luo, T. Kruger, O. Kniemeyer, E. Cota, O. Bader, R. T. Wheeler, T. Gutsmann, Bernhard Hube, J. R. Naglik

Date Published: 30th Mar 2016

Journal: Nature

Abstract (Expand)

Intestinal epithelial cells (IEC) form a tight barrier to the gut lumen. Paracellular permeability of the intestinal barrier is regulated by tight junction proteins and can be modulated by microorganisms and other stimuli. The polymorphic fungus Candida albicans, a frequent commensal of the human mucosa has the capacity of traversing this barrier and establishing systemic disease within the host. Infection of polarized C2BBe1 IEC with wild-type C. albicans led to a transient increase of transepithelial electric resistance (TEER) before subsequent barrier disruption, accompanied by a strong decline of junctional protein levels and substantial, but considerably delayed cytotoxicity. Time-resolved microarray-based transcriptome analysis of C. albicans challenged IEC revealed a prominent role of NF-kappaB and MAPK signaling pathways in the response to infection. Hence, we inferred a gene regulatory network based on differentially expressed NF-kappaB and MAPK pathway components and their predicted transcriptional targets. The network model predicted activation of GDF15 by NF-kappaB was experimentally validated. Furthermore, inhibition of NF-kappaB activation in C. albicans infected C2BBe1 cells led to enhanced cytotoxicity in the epithelial cells. Taken together our study identifies NF-kappaB activation as an important protective signaling pathway in the response of epithelial cells to C. albicans. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Authors: M. Bohringer, S. Pohlers, Sylvie Schulze, Daniela Albrecht-Eckardt, J. Piegsa, M. Weber, R. Martin, Kerstin Hünniger, Jörg Linde, Reinhard Guthke, Oliver Kurzai

Date Published: 12th Jan 2016

Journal: Cell Microbiol

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