Publications

Abstract (Expand)

Typically, established lab strains are widely used to study host-pathogen interactions. However, to better reflect the infection process, the experimental use of clinical isolates has come more into focus. Here, we analyzed the interaction of multiple vaginal isolates of the opportunistic fungal pathogen Candida albicans, the most common cause of vulvovaginal candidiasis in women, with key players of the host immune system: macrophages. We tested several strains isolated from asymptomatic or symptomatic women with acute and recurrent infections. While all clinical strains showed a response similar to the commonly used lab strain SC5314 in various in vitro assays, they displayed remarkable differences during interaction with macrophages. This coincided with significantly reduced beta-glucan exposure on the cell surface, which appeared to be a shared property among the tested vaginal strains for yeast extract/peptone/dextrose-grown cells, which is partly lost when the isolates faced vaginal niche-like nutrient conditions. However, macrophage damage, survival of phagocytosis, and filamentation capacities were highly strain-specific. These results highlight the high heterogeneity of C. albicans strains in host-pathogen interactions, which have to be taken into account to bridge the gap between laboratory-gained data and disease-related outcomes in an actual patient.IMPORTANCE Vulvovaginal candidiasis is one of the most common fungal infections in humans with Candida albicans as the major causative agent. This study is the first to compare clinical vaginal isolates of defined patient groups in their interaction with macrophages, highlighting the vastly different outcomes in comparison to a laboratory strain using commonly applied virulence-determining assays.

Authors: F. Gerwien, C. Dunker, Philipp Brandt, E. Garbe, Ilse Jacobsen, Slavena Vylkova

Date Published: 19th Aug 2020

Journal: mSphere

Abstract (Expand)

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

Abstract (Expand)

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)

Only few Candida species, e.g., Candida albicans, Candida glabrata, Candida dubliniensis, and Candida parapsilosis, are successful colonizers of a human host. Under certain circumstances these species can cause infections ranging from superficial to life-threatening disseminated candidiasis. The success of C. albicans, the most prevalent and best studied Candida species, as both commensal and human pathogen depends on its genetic, biochemical, and morphological flexibility which facilitates adaptation to a wide range of host niches. In addition, formation of biofilms provides additional protection from adverse environmental conditions. Furthermore, in many host niches Candida cells coexist with members of the human microbiome. The resulting fungal-bacterial interactions have a major influence on the success of C. albicans as commensal and also influence disease development and outcome. In this chapter, we review the current knowledge of important survival strategies of Candida spp., focusing on fundamental fitness and virulence traits of C. albicans.

Authors: M. Polke, Bernhard Hube, Ilse Jacobsen

Date Published: 24th Feb 2015

Journal: Adv Appl Microbiol

Abstract (Expand)

The pathology of vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) caused by Candida albicans is associated with a nonprotective inflammatory response and is frequently treated with clotrimazole. We investigated the mechanisms by which clotrimazole resolves VVC. Low levels of clotrimazole, which do not block fungal growth, inhibit expression of a "danger response" transcription factor, c-Fos, block production of proinflammatory cytokines, and inhibit neutrophil infiltration to the site of infection.

Authors: D. Wilson, B. Hebecker, D. L. Moyes, P. Miramon, N. Jablonowski, S. Wisgott, S. Allert, J. R. Naglik, Bernhard Hube

Date Published: 29th Jul 2013

Journal: Antimicrob Agents Chemother

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