Abstract (Expand)

Aspergillus fumigatus is a saprophytic, cosmopolitan fungus that attacks patients with a weak immune system. A rational solution against fungal infection aims to manipulate fungal metabolism or to block enzymes essential for Aspergillus survival. Here we discuss and compare different bioinformatics approaches to analyze possible targeting strategies on fungal-unique pathways. For instance, phylogenetic analysis reveals fungal targets, while domain analysis allows us to spot minor differences in protein composition between the host and fungi. Moreover, protein networks between host and fungi can be systematically compared by looking at orthologs and exploiting information from host(-)pathogen interaction databases. Further data—such as knowledge of a three-dimensional structure, gene expression data, or information from calculated metabolic fluxes—refine the search and rapidly put a focus on the best targets for antimycotics. We analyzed several of the best targets for application to structure-based drug design. Finally, we discuss general advantages and limitations in identification of unique fungal pathways and protein targets when applying bioinformatics tools.

Authors: E. Bencurova, S. K. Gupta, E. Sarukhanyan, T. Dandekar

Date Published: 4th Jul 2018

Journal: J Fungi (Basel)

Abstract (Expand)

Fungal microorganisms frequently lead to life-threatening infections. Within this group of pathogens, the commensal Candida albicans and the filamentous fungus Aspergillus fumigatus are by far the most important causes of invasive mycoses in Europe. A key capability for host invasion and immune response evasion are specific molecular interactions between the fungal pathogen and its human host. Experimentally validated knowledge about these crucial interactions is rare in literature and even specialized host-pathogen databases mainly focus on bacterial and viral interactions whereas information on fungi is still sparse. To establish large-scale host-fungi interaction networks on a systems biology scale, we develop an extended inference approach based on protein orthology and data on gene functions. Using human and yeast intraspecies networks as template, we derive a large network of pathogen-host interactions (PHI). Rigorous filtering and refinement steps based on cellular localization and pathogenicity information of predicted interactors yield a primary scaffold of fungi-human and fungi-mouse interaction networks. Specific enrichment of known pathogenicity-relevant genes indicates the biological relevance of the predicted PHI. A detailed inspection of functionally relevant subnetworks reveals novel host-fungal interaction candidates such as the Candida virulence factor PLB1 and the anti-fungal host protein APP. Our results demonstrate the applicability of interolog-based prediction methods for host-fungi interactions and underline the importance of filtering and refinement steps to attain biologically more relevant interactions. This integrated network framework can serve as a basis for future analyses of high-throughput host-fungi transcriptome and proteome data.

Authors: C. W. Remmele, C. H. Luther, J. Balkenhol, T. Dandekar, T. Muller, M. T. Dittrich

Date Published: 25th Aug 2015

Journal: Front Microbiol

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