Abstract (Expand)

UNLABELLED: Single-celled organisms have different strategies to sense and utilize nutrients in their ever-changing environments. The opportunistic fungal pathogen Candida albicans is a common member of the human microbiota, especially that of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. An important question concerns how C. albicans gained a competitive advantage over other microbes to become a successful commensal and opportunistic pathogen. Here, we report that C. albicans uses N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc), an abundant carbon source present in the GI tract, as a signal for nutrient availability. When placed in water, C. albicans cells normally enter the G0 phase and remain viable for weeks. However, they quickly lose viability when cultured in water containing only GlcNAc. We term this phenomenon GlcNAc-induced cell death (GICD). GlcNAc triggers the upregulation of ribosomal biogenesis genes, alterations of mitochondrial metabolism, and the accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), followed by rapid cell death via both apoptotic and necrotic mechanisms. Multiple pathways, including the conserved cyclic AMP (cAMP) signaling and GlcNAc catabolic pathways, are involved in GICD. GlcNAc acts as a signaling molecule to regulate multiple cellular programs in a coordinated manner and therefore maximizes the efficiency of nutrient use. This adaptive behavior allows C. albicans' more efficient colonization of the gut. IMPORTANCE: The ability to rapidly and appropriately respond to nutrients in the environment is crucial to free-living microorganisms. To maximize the use of available nutrients, microorganisms often use a limiting nutritional component as a signal to coordinate multiple biological processes. The human fungal pathogen Candida albicans uses N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) as a signal for the availability of external nutrient resources. GlcNAc induces rapid cell death in C. albicans due to the constitutive activation of oxidative metabolism and accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and multiple pathways are involved in its regulation. This study sheds light on the mechanisms of niche specialization of pathogenic fungi and raises the possibility that this cell death pathway could be an unexplored therapeutic target.

Authors: H. Du, G. Guan, X. Li, M. Gulati, L. Tao, C. Cao, A. D. Johnson, C. J. Nobile, G. Huang

Date Published: 10th Sep 2015

Journal: MBio

Abstract (Expand)

Candida albicans and Candida glabrata account for the majority of candidiasis cases worldwide. Although both species are in the same genus, they differ in key virulence attributes. Within this work, live cell imaging was used to examine the dynamics of neutrophil activation after confrontation with either C. albicans or C. glabrata. Analyses revealed higher phagocytosis rates of C. albicans than C. glabrata that resulted in stronger PMN (polymorphonuclear cells) activation by C. albicans. Furthermore, we observed differences in the secretion of chemokines, indicating chemotactic differences in PMN signalling towards recruitment of further immune cells upon confrontation with Candida spp. Supernatants from co-incubations of neutrophils with C. glabrata primarily attracted monocytes and increased the phagocytosis of C. glabrata by monocytes. In contrast, PMN activation by C. albicans resulted in recruitment of more neutrophils. Two complex infection models confirmed distinct targeting of immune cell populations by the two Candida spp.: In a human whole blood infection model, C. glabrata was more effectively taken up by monocytes than C. albicans and histopathological analyses of murine model infections confirmed primarily monocytic infiltrates in C. glabrata kidney infection in contrast to PMN-dominated infiltrates in C. albicans infection. Taken together, our data demonstrate that the human opportunistic fungi C. albicans and C. glabrata are differentially recognized by neutrophils and one outcome of this differential recognition is the preferential uptake of C. glabrata by monocytes.

Authors: S. Duggan, F. Essig, Kerstin Hünniger, Z. Mokhtari, Michael Bauer, T. Lehnert, S. Brandes, A. Hader, Ilse Jacobsen, R. Martin, Marc Thilo Figge, Oliver Kurzai

Date Published: 5th May 2015

Journal: Cell Microbiol

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