Publications

Abstract (Expand)

Super-resolution microscopy has evolved as a powerful method for subdiffraction-resolution fluorescence imaging of cells and cellular organelles, but requires sophisticated and expensive installations. Expansion microscopy (ExM), which is based on the physical expansion of the cellular structure of interest, provides a cheap alternative to bypass the diffraction limit and enable super-resolution imaging on a conventional fluorescence microscope. While ExM has shown impressive results for the magnified visualization of proteins and RNAs in cells and tissues, it has not yet been applied in fungi, mainly due to their complex cell wall. Here we developed a method that enables reliable isotropic expansion of ascomycetes and basidiomycetes upon treatment with cell wall degrading enzymes. Confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) and structured illumination microscopy (SIM) images of 4.5-fold expanded sporidia of Ustilago maydis expressing fluorescent fungal rhodopsins and hyphae of Fusarium oxysporum or Aspergillus fumigatus expressing either histone H1-mCherry together with Lifeact-sGFP or mRFP targeted to mitochondria, revealed details of subcellular structures with an estimated spatial resolution of around 30 nm. ExM is thus well suited for cell biology studies in fungi on conventional fluorescence microscopes.

Authors: R. Gotz, S. Panzer, Nora Trinks, J. Eilts, J. Wagener, D. Turra, A. Di Pietro, M. Sauer, Ulrich Terpitz

Date Published: 23rd Apr 2020

Journal: Front Microbiol

Abstract (Expand)

Aspergillus fumigatus is a common airborne fungal pathogen of humans and a significant source of mortality in immunocompromised individuals. Here, we provide the most extensive cell wall proteome profiling to date of A. fumigatus resting conidia, the fungal morphotype pertinent to first contact with the host. Using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS), we identified proteins within the conidial cell wall by hydrogen-fluoride (HF)-pyridine extraction and proteins exposed on the surface using a trypsin-shaving approach. One protein, designated conidial cell wall protein A (CcpA), was identified by both methods and was found to be nearly as abundant as hydrophobic rodlet layer-forming protein RodA. CcpA, an amphiphilic protein, like RodA, peaks in expression during sporulation on resting conidia. Despite high cell wall abundance, the cell surface structure of DeltaccpA resting conidia appeared normal. However, trypsin shaving of DeltaccpA conidia revealed novel surface-exposed proteins not detected on conidia of the wild-type strain. Interestingly, the presence of swollen DeltaccpA conidia led to higher activation of neutrophils and dendritic cells than was seen with wild-type conidia and caused significantly less damage to epithelial cells in vitro In addition, virulence was highly attenuated when cortisone-treated, immunosuppressed mice were infected with DeltaccpA conidia. CcpA-specific memory T cell responses were detectable in healthy human donors naturally exposed to A. fumigatus conidia, suggesting a role for CcpA as a structural protein impacting conidial immunogenicity rather than possessing a protein-intrinsic immunosuppressive effect. Together, these data suggest that CcpA serves as a conidial stealth protein by altering the conidial surface structure to minimize innate immune recognition.IMPORTANCE The mammalian immune system relies on recognition of pathogen surface antigens for targeting and clearance. In the absence of immune evasion strategies, pathogen clearance is rapid. In the case of Aspergillus fumigatus, the successful fungus must avoid phagocytosis in the lung to establish invasive infection. In healthy individuals, fungal spores are cleared by immune cells; however, in immunocompromised patients, clearance mechanisms are impaired. Here, using proteome analyses, we identified CcpA as an important fungal spore protein involved in pathogenesis. A. fumigatus lacking CcpA was more susceptible to immune recognition and prompt eradication and, consequently, exhibited drastically attenuated virulence. In infection studies, CcpA was required for virulence in infected immunocompromised mice, suggesting that it could be used as a possible immunotherapeutic or diagnostic target in the future. In summary, our report adds a protein to the list of those known to be critical to the complex fungal spore surface environment and, more importantly, identifies a protein important for conidial immunogenicity during infection.

Authors: V. Voltersen, M. G. Blango, S. Herrmann, F. Schmidt, Thorsten Heinekamp, M. Strassburger, Thomas Krüger, P. Bacher, J. Lother, Esther Weiß, Kerstin Hünniger, H. Liu, P. Hortschansky, A. Scheffold, Jürgen Löffler, S. Krappmann, S. Nietzsche, Oliver Kurzai, Hermann Einsele, Olaf Kniemeyer, S. G. Filler, U. Reichard, Axel Brakhage

Date Published: No date defined

Journal: MBio

Abstract (Expand)

Human fungal pathogens like Candida albicans respond to host immune surveillance by rapidly adapting their transcriptional programs. Chromatin assembly factors are involved in the regulation of stress genes by modulating the histone density at these loci. Here, we report a novel role for the chromatin assembly-associated histone acetyltransferase complex NuB4 in regulating oxidative stress resistance, antifungal drug tolerance and virulence in C. albicans. Strikingly, depletion of the NuB4 catalytic subunit, the histone acetyltransferase Hat1, markedly increases resistance to oxidative stress and tolerance to azole antifungals. Hydrogen peroxide resistance in cells lacking Hat1 results from higher induction rates of oxidative stress gene expression, accompanied by reduced histone density as well as subsequent increased RNA polymerase recruitment. Furthermore, hat1Delta/Delta cells, despite showing growth defects in vitro, display reduced susceptibility to reactive oxygen-mediated killing by innate immune cells. Thus, clearance from infected mice is delayed although cells lacking Hat1 are severely compromised in killing the host. Interestingly, increased oxidative stress resistance and azole tolerance are phenocopied by the loss of histone chaperone complexes CAF-1 and HIR, respectively, suggesting a central role for NuB4 in the delivery of histones destined for chromatin assembly via distinct pathways. Remarkably, the oxidative stress phenotype of hat1Delta/Delta cells is a species-specific trait only found in C. albicans and members of the CTG clade. The reduced azole susceptibility appears to be conserved in a wider range of fungi. Thus, our work demonstrates how highly conserved chromatin assembly pathways can acquire new functions in pathogenic fungi during coevolution with the host.

Authors: M. Tscherner, F. Zwolanek, S. Jenull, F. J. Sedlazeck, A. Petryshyn, I. E. Frohner, J. Mavrianos, N. Chauhan, A. von Haeseler, K. Kuchler

Date Published: No date defined

Journal: PLoS Pathog

Abstract (Expand)

Candida albicans is a common cause of life-threatening fungal bloodstream infections. In the murine model of systemic candidiasis, the kidney is the primary target organ while the fungal load declines over time in liver and spleen. To better understand these organ-specific differences in host-pathogen interaction, we performed gene expression profiling of murine kidney, liver and spleen and determined the fungal transcriptome in liver and kidney. We observed a delayed transcriptional immune response accompanied by late induction of fungal stress response genes in the kidneys. In contrast, early upregulation of the proinflammatory response in the liver was associated with a fungal transcriptome resembling response to phagocytosis, suggesting that phagocytes contribute significantly to fungal control in the liver. Notably, C. albicans hypha-associated genes were upregulated in the absence of visible filamentation in the liver, indicating an uncoupling of gene expression and morphology and a morphology-independent effect by hypha-associated genes in this organ. Consistently, integration of host and pathogen transcriptional data in an inter-species gene regulatory network indicated connections of C. albicans cell wall remodelling and metabolism to the organ-specific immune responses.

Authors: B. Hebecker, S. Vlaic, T. Conrad, Michael Bauer, S. Brunke, M. Kapitan, Jörg Linde, B. Hube, Ilse Jacobsen

Date Published: No date defined

Journal: Sci Rep

Abstract (Expand)

The identification of novel transcription factors associated with antifungal response may allow the discovery of fungus-specific targets for new therapeutic strategies. A collection of 241 Candida albicans transcriptional regulator mutants was screened for altered susceptibility to fluconazole, caspofungin, amphotericin B, and 5-fluorocytosine. Thirteen of these mutants not yet identified in terms of their role in antifungal response were further investigated, and the function of one of them, a mutant of orf19.6102 (RCA1), was characterized by transcriptome analysis. Strand-specific RNA sequencing and phenotypic tests assigned Rca1 as the regulator of hyphal formation through the cyclic AMP/protein kinase A (cAMP/PKA) signaling pathway and the transcription factor Efg1, but also probably through its interaction with a transcriptional repressor, most likely Tup1. The mechanisms responsible for the high level of resistance to caspofungin and fluconazole observed resulting from RCA1 deletion were investigated. From our observations, we propose that caspofungin resistance was the consequence of the deregulation of cell wall gene expression and that fluconazole resistance was linked to the modulation of the cAMP/PKA signaling pathway activity. In conclusion, our large-scale screening of a C. albicans transcription factor mutant collection allowed the identification of new effectors of the response to antifungals. The functional characterization of Rca1 assigned this transcription factor and its downstream targets as promising candidates for the development of new therapeutic strategies, as Rca1 influences host sensing, hyphal development, and antifungal response.

Authors: P. Vandeputte, S. Pradervand, F. Ischer, A. T. Coste, S. Ferrari, K. Harshman, D. Sanglard

Date Published: No date defined

Journal: Eukaryot Cell

Abstract (Expand)

BACKGROUND: Invasive aspergillosis is started after germination of Aspergillus fumigatus conidia that are inhaled by susceptible individuals. Fungal hyphae can grow in the lung through the epithelial tissue and disseminate hematogenously to invade into other organs. Low fungaemia indicates that fungal elements do not reside in the bloodstream for long. RESULTS: We analyzed whether blood represents a hostile environment to which the physiology of A. fumigatus has to adapt. An in vitro model of A. fumigatus infection was established by incubating mycelium in blood. Our model allowed to discern the changes of the gene expression profile of A. fumigatus at various stages of the infection. The majority of described virulence factors that are connected to pulmonary infections appeared not to be activated during the blood phase. Three active processes were identified that presumably help the fungus to survive the blood environment in an advanced phase of the infection: iron homeostasis, secondary metabolism, and the formation of detoxifying enzymes. CONCLUSIONS: We propose that A. fumigatus is hardly able to propagate in blood. After an early stage of sensing the environment, virtually all uptake mechanisms and energy-consuming metabolic pathways are shut-down. The fungus appears to adapt by trans-differentiation into a resting mycelial stage. This might reflect the harsh conditions in blood where A. fumigatus cannot take up sufficient nutrients to establish self-defense mechanisms combined with significant growth.

Authors: H. Irmer, S. Tarazona, C. Sasse, P. Olbermann, J. Loeffler, S. Krappmann, A. Conesa, G. H. Braus

Date Published: 28th Aug 2015

Journal: BMC Genomics

Abstract (Expand)

Candida albicans is associated with humans as both a harmless commensal organism and a pathogen. Cph2 is a transcription factor whose DNA binding domain is similar to that of mammalian sterol response element binding proteins (SREBPs). SREBPs are master regulators of cellular cholesterol levels and are highly conserved from fungi to mammals. However, ergosterol biosynthesis is regulated by the zinc finger transcription factor Upc2 in C. albicans and several other yeasts. Cph2 is not necessary for ergosterol biosynthesis but is important for colonization in the murine gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Here we demonstrate that Cph2 is a membrane-associated transcription factor that is processed to release the N-terminal DNA binding domain like SREBPs, but its cleavage is not regulated by cellular levels of ergosterol or oxygen. Chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-seq) shows that Cph2 binds to the promoters of HMS1 and other components of the regulatory circuit for GI tract colonization. In addition, 50% of Cph2 targets are also bound by Hms1 and other factors of the regulatory circuit. Several common targets function at the head of the glycolysis pathway. Thus, Cph2 is an integral part of the regulatory circuit for GI colonization that regulates glycolytic flux. Transcriptome sequencing (RNA-seq) shows a significant overlap in genes differentially regulated by Cph2 and hypoxia, and Cph2 is important for optimal expression of some hypoxia-responsive genes in glycolysis and the citric acid cycle. We suggest that Cph2 and Upc2 regulate hypoxia-responsive expression in different pathways, consistent with a synthetic lethal defect of the cph2 upc2 double mutant in hypoxia.

Authors: S. Lane, P. Di Lena, K. Tormanen, P. Baldi, H. Liu

Date Published: 6th Sep 2015

Journal: Eukaryot Cell

Abstract (Expand)

As a successful commensal and pathogen of humans, Candida albicans encounters a wide range of environmental conditions. Among them, ambient pH, which changes frequently and affects many biological processes in this species, is an important factor, and the ability to adapt to pH changes is tightly linked with pathogenesis and morphogenesis. In this study, we report that pH has a profound effect on white-opaque switching and sexual mating in C. albicans. Acidic pH promotes white-to-opaque switching under certain culture conditions but represses sexual mating. The Rim101-mediated pH-sensing pathway is involved in the control of pH-regulated white-opaque switching and the mating response. Phr2 and Rim101 could play a major role in acidic pH-induced opaque cell formation. Despite the fact that the cyclic AMP (cAMP) signaling pathway does not play a major role in pH-regulated white-opaque switching and mating, white and opaque cells of the cyr1/cyr1 mutant, which is defective in the production of cAMP, showed distinct growth defects under acidic and alkaline conditions. We further discovered that acidic pH conditions repressed sexual mating due to the failure of activation of the Ste2-mediated alpha-pheromone response pathway in opaque A: cells. The effects of pH changes on phenotypic switching and sexual mating could involve a balance of host adaptation and sexual reproduction in C. albicans.

Authors: Y. Sun, C. Cao, W. Jia, L. Tao, G. Guan, G. Huang

Date Published: 6th Sep 2015

Journal: Eukaryot Cell

Abstract (Expand)

Modes of sexual reproduction in eukaryotic organisms are extremely diverse. The human fungal pathogen Candida albicans undergoes a phenotypic switch from the white to the opaque phase in order to become mating-competent. In this study, we report that functionally- and morphologically-differentiated white and opaque cells show a coordinated behavior during mating. Although white cells are mating-incompetent, they can produce sexual pheromones when treated with pheromones of the opposite mating type or by physically interacting with opaque cells of the opposite mating type. In a co-culture system, pheromones released by white cells induce opaque cells to form mating projections, and facilitate both opposite- and same-sex mating of opaque cells. Deletion of genes encoding the pheromone precursor proteins and inactivation of the pheromone response signaling pathway (Ste2-MAPK-Cph1) impair the promoting role of white cells (MTLa) in the sexual mating of opaque cells. White and opaque cells communicate via a paracrine pheromone signaling system, creating an environment conducive to sexual mating. This coordination between the two different cell types may be a trade-off strategy between sexual and asexual lifestyles in C. albicans.

Authors: L. Tao, C. Cao, W. Liang, G. Guan, Q. Zhang, C. J. Nobile, G. Huang

Date Published: 21st Oct 2014

Journal: PLoS Genet

Abstract (Expand)

Candida albicans demonstrates three main growth morphologies: yeast, pseudohyphal and true hyphal forms. Cell separation is distinct in these morphological forms and the process of separation is closely linked to the completion of mitosis and cytokinesis. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae the small GTPase Tem1 is known to initiate the mitotic exit network, a signalling pathway involved in signalling the end of mitosis and initiating cytokinesis and cell separation. Here we have characterised the role of Tem1 in C. albicans, and demonstrate that it is essential for mitotic exit and cytokinesis, and that this essential function is signalled through the kinase Cdc15. Cells depleted of Tem1 displayed highly polarised growth but ultimately failed to both complete cytokinesis and re-enter the cell cycle following nuclear division. Consistent with its role in activating the mitotic exit network Tem1 localises to spindle pole bodies in a cell cycle-dependent manner. Ultimately, the mitotic exit network in C. albicans appears to co-ordinate the sequential processes of mitotic exit, cytokinesis and cell separation.

Authors: S. W. Milne, J. Cheetham, D. Lloyd, S. Shaw, K. Moore, K. H. Paszkiewicz, S. J. Aves, S. Bates

Date Published: 29th Jun 2014

Journal: Fungal Genet Biol

Powered by
(v.1.9.1)
Copyright © 2008 - 2019 The University of Manchester and HITS gGmbH