Publications

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203 Publications visible to you, out of a total of 203

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

Publication Type: Not specified

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

Publication Type: Not specified

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

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

The genus Penicillium belongs to the phylum Ascomycota and includes a variety of fungal species important for food and drug production. We report the draft genome sequence of Penicillium brasilianum MG11. This strain was isolated from soil, and it was reported to produce different secondary metabolites.

Authors: F. Horn, , D. J. Mattern, G. Walther, , , V. Valiante

Date Published: 5th Sep 2015

Publication Type: Not specified

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

Publication Type: Not specified

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

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

More than 80 years after its discovery, penicillin is still a widely used and commercially highly important antibiotic. Here, we analyse the metabolic network of penicillin synthesis in Penicillium chrysogenum based on the concept of elementary flux modes. In particular, we consider the synthesis of the invariant molecular core of the various subtypes of penicillin and the two major ways of incorporating sulfur: transsulfuration and direct sulfhydrylation. 66 elementary modes producing this invariant core are obtained. These show four different yields with respect to glucose, notably (1/2), 2/5, 1/3, and 2/7, with the highest yield of (1/2) occurring only when direct sulfhydrylation is used and alpha-aminoadipate is completely recycled. In the case of no recycling of this intermediate, we find the maximum yield to be 2/7. We compare these values with earlier literature values. Our analysis provides a systematic overview of the redundancy in penicillin synthesis and a detailed insight into the corresponding routes. Moreover, we derive suggestions for potential knockouts that could increase the average yield.

Authors: M. T. Prausse, S. Schauble, ,

Date Published: 19th Aug 2015

Publication Type: Not specified

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. H. Luther, J. Balkenhol, , ,

Date Published: 4th Aug 2015

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

The diploid, polymorphic yeast Candida albicans is one of the most important human pathogenic fungi. C. albicans can grow, proliferate and coexist as a commensal on or within the human host for a long time. However, alterations in the host environment can render C. albicans virulent. In this review, we describe the immunological cross-talk between C. albicans and the human innate immune system. We give an overview in form of pairs of human defense strategies including immunological mechanisms as well as general stressors such as nutrient limitation, pH, fever etc. and the corresponding fungal response and evasion mechanisms. Furthermore, Computational Systems Biology approaches to model and investigate these complex interactions are highlighted with a special focus on game-theoretical methods and agent-based models. An outlook on interesting questions to be tackled by Systems Biology regarding entangled defense and evasion mechanisms is given.

Authors: , S. Germerodt, , , ,

Date Published: 30th Jun 2015

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

Opportunistic fungal pathogens can cause bloodstream infection and severe sepsis upon entering the blood stream of the host. The early immune response in human blood comprises the elimination of pathogens by antimicrobial peptides and innate immune cells, such as neutrophils or monocytes. Mathematical modeling is a predictive method to examine these complex processes and to quantify the dynamics of pathogen-host interactions. Since model parameters are often not directly accessible from experiment, their estimation is required by calibrating model predictions with experimental data. Depending on the complexity of the mathematical model, parameter estimation can be associated with excessively high computational costs in terms of run time and memory. We apply a strategy for reliable parameter estimation where different modeling approaches with increasing complexity are used that build on one another. This bottom-up modeling approach is applied to an experimental human whole-blood infection assay for Candida albicans. Aiming for the quantification of the relative impact of different routes of the immune response against this human-pathogenic fungus, we start from a non-spatial state-based model (SBM), because this level of model complexity allows estimating a priori unknown transition rates between various system states by the global optimization method simulated annealing. Building on the non-spatial SBM, an agent-based model (ABM) is implemented that incorporates the migration of interacting cells in three-dimensional space. The ABM takes advantage of estimated parameters from the non-spatial SBM, leading to a decreased dimensionality of the parameter space. This space can be scanned using a local optimization approach, i.e., least-squares error estimation based on an adaptive regular grid search, to predict cell migration parameters that are not accessible in experiment. In the future, spatio-temporal simulations of whole-blood samples may enable timely stratification of sepsis patients by distinguishing hyper-inflammatory from paralytic phases in immune dysregulation.

Authors: T. Lehnert, , J. Pollmacher, , ,

Date Published: 19th Jun 2015

Publication Type: Not specified

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