Publications

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

Abstract (Expand)

Polymorphonuclear neutrophilic granulocytes (PMN) as cellular components of innate immunity play a crucial role in the defense against systemic Candida albicans infection. To analyze stimuli that are required for PMN activity during C. albicans infection in a situation similar to in vivo, we used a human whole-blood infection model. In this model, PMN activation 10 min after C. albicans infection was largely dependent on the anaphylatoxin C5a. Most importantly, C5a enabled blood PMN to overcome filament-restricted recognition of C. albicans and allowed efficient elimination of nonfilamentous C. albicans cph1Delta/efg1Delta from blood. Major PMN effector mechanisms, including oxidative burst, release of secondary granule contents and initial fungal phagocytosis could be prevented by blocking C5a receptor signaling. Identical effects were achieved using a humanized Ab specifically targeting human C5a. Phagocytosis of C. albicans 10 min postinfection was mediated by C5a-dependent enhancement of CD11b surface expression on PMN, thus establishing the C5a-C5aR-CD11b axis as a major modulator of early anti-Candida immune responses in human blood. In contrast, phagocytosis of C. albicans by PMN 60 min postinfection occurred almost independently of C5a and mainly contributed to activation of phagocytically active PMN at later time points. Our results show that C5a is a critical mediator in human blood during C. albicans infection.

Authors: , K. Bieber, R. Martin, T. Lehnert, , J. Loffler, R. F. Guo, N. C. Riedemann,

Date Published: 24th Dec 2014

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

Following antifungal treatment, Candida albicans, and other human pathogenic fungi can undergo microevolution, which leads to the emergence of drug resistance. However, the capacity for microevolutionary adaptation of fungi goes beyond the development of resistance against antifungals. Here we used an experimental microevolution approach to show that one of the central pathogenicity mechanisms of C. albicans, the yeast-to-hyphae transition, can be subject to experimental evolution. The C. albicans cph1Delta/efg1Delta mutant is nonfilamentous, as central signaling pathways linking environmental cues to hyphal formation are disrupted. We subjected this mutant to constant selection pressure in the hostile environment of the macrophage phagosome. In a comparatively short time-frame, the mutant evolved the ability to escape macrophages by filamentation. In addition, the evolved mutant exhibited hyper-virulence in a murine infection model and an altered cell wall composition compared to the cph1Delta/efg1Delta strain. Moreover, the transcriptional regulation of hyphae-associated, and other pathogenicity-related genes became re-responsive to environmental cues in the evolved strain. We went on to identify the causative missense mutation via whole genome- and transcriptome-sequencing: a single nucleotide exchange took place within SSN3 that encodes a component of the Cdk8 module of the Mediator complex, which links transcription factors with the general transcription machinery. This mutation was responsible for the reconnection of the hyphal growth program with environmental signals in the evolved strain and was sufficient to bypass Efg1/Cph1-dependent filamentation. These data demonstrate that even central transcriptional networks can be remodeled very quickly under appropriate selection pressure.

Authors: A. Wartenberg, , R. Martin, M. Schreiner, F. Horn, , S. Jenull, , K. Kuchler, , , A. Forche, C. d'Enfert, S. Brunke,

Date Published: 4th Dec 2014

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

Aspergillus fumigatus is a saprotrophic filamentous fungus and also the most prevalent airborne fungal pathogen of humans. Depending on the host's immune status, the variety of diseases caused by A. fumigatus ranges from allergies in immunocompetent hosts to life-threatening invasive infections in patients with impaired immunity. In contrast to the majority of other Aspergillus species, which are in most cases nonpathogenic, A. fumigatus features an armory of virulence determinants to establish an infection. For example, A. fumigatus is able to evade the human complement system by binding or degrading complement regulators. Furthermore, the fungus interferes with lung epithelial cells, alveolar macrophages, and neutrophil granulocytes to prevent killing by these immune cells. This chapter summarizes the different strategies of A. fumigatus to manipulate the immune response. We also discuss the potential impact of recent advances in immunoproteomics to improve diagnosis and therapy of an A. fumigatus infection.

Authors: T. Heinekamp, H. Schmidt, K. Lapp, V. Pahtz, , N. Koster-Eiserfunke, T. Kruger, O. Kniemeyer,

Date Published: 18th Nov 2014

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

Time-lapse microscopy is an important technique to study the dynamics of various biological processes. The labor-intensive manual analysis of microscopy videos is increasingly replaced by automated segmentation and tracking methods. These methods are often limited to certain cell morphologies and/or cell stainings. In this paper, we present an automated segmentation and tracking framework that does not have these restrictions. In particular, our framework handles highly variable cell shapes and does not rely on any cell stainings. Our segmentation approach is based on a combination of spatial and temporal image variations to detect moving cells in microscopy videos. This method yields a sensitivity of 99% and a precision of 95% in object detection. The tracking of cells consists of different steps, starting from single-cell tracking based on a nearest-neighbor-approach, detection of cell-cell interactions and splitting of cell clusters, and finally combining tracklets using methods from graph theory. The segmentation and tracking framework was applied to synthetic as well as experimental datasets with varying cell densities implying different numbers of cell-cell interactions. We established a validation framework to measure the performance of our tracking technique. The cell tracking accuracy was found to be >99% for all datasets indicating a high accuracy for connecting the detected cells between different time points.

Authors: S. Brandes, Z. Mokhtari, F. Essig, , ,

Date Published: 8th Nov 2014

Publication Type: Not specified

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

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

Aspergillus fumigatus is a saprophytic mold that can cause life-threatening infections in immunocompromised patients. In the lung, inhaled conidia are confronted with immune effector cells that attack the fungus by various mechanisms such as phagocytosis, production of antimicrobial proteins or generation of reactive oxygen intermediates. Macrophages and neutrophils can also form nitric oxide (NO) and other reactive nitrogen intermediates (RNI) that potentially also contribute to killing of the fungus. However, fungi can produce several enzymes involved in RNI detoxification. Based on genome analysis of A. fumigatus, we identified two genes encoding flavohemoglobins, FhpA, and FhpB, which have been shown to convert NO to nitrate in other fungi, and a gene encoding S-nitrosoglutathione reductase GnoA reducing S-nitrosoglutathione to ammonium and glutathione disulphide. To elucidate the role of these enzymes in detoxification of RNI, single and double deletion mutants of FhpA, FhpB, and GnoA encoding genes were generated. The analysis of mutant strains using the NO donor DETA-NO indicated that FhpA and GnoA play the major role in defense against RNI. By generating fusions with the green fluorescence protein, we showed that both FhpA-eGFP and GnoA-eGFP were located in the cytoplasm of all A. fumigatus morphotypes, from conidia to hyphae, whereas FhpB-eGFP was localized in mitochondria. Because fhpA and gnoA mRNA was also detected in the lungs of infected mice, we investigated the role of these genes in fungal pathogenicity by using a murine infection model for invasive pulmonary aspergillosis. Remarkably, all mutant strains tested displayed wild-type pathogenicity, indicating that the ability to detoxify host-derived RNI is not essential for virulence of A. fumigatus in the applied mouse infection model. Consistently, no significant differences in killing of DeltafhpA, DeltafhpB, or DeltagnoA conidia by cells of the macrophage cell line MH-S were observed when compared to the wild type.

Authors: K. Lapp, M. Vodisch, K. Kroll, M. Strassburger, O. Kniemeyer, T. Heinekamp,

Date Published: 11th Sep 2014

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

Fungal pathogens must assimilate local nutrients to establish an infection in their mammalian host. We focus on carbon, nitrogen, and micronutrient assimilation mechanisms, discussing how these influence host-fungus interactions during infection. We highlight several emerging trends based on the available data. First, the perturbation of carbon, nitrogen, or micronutrient assimilation attenuates fungal pathogenicity. Second, the contrasting evolutionary pressures exerted on facultative versus obligatory pathogens have led to contemporary pathogenic fungal species that display differing degrees of metabolic flexibility. The evolutionarily ancient metabolic pathways are conserved in most fungal pathogen, but interesting gaps exist in some species (e.g., Candida glabrata). Third, metabolic flexibility is generally essential for fungal pathogenicity, and in particular, for the adaptation to contrasting host microenvironments such as the gastrointestinal tract, mucosal surfaces, bloodstream, and internal organs. Fourth, this metabolic flexibility relies on complex regulatory networks, some of which are conserved across lineages, whereas others have undergone significant evolutionary rewiring. Fifth, metabolic adaptation affects fungal susceptibility to antifungal drugs and also presents exciting opportunities for the development of novel therapies.

Authors: I. V. Ene, S. Brunke, A. J. Brown,

Date Published: 4th Sep 2014

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

Lichtheimia corymbifera is a ubiquitous soilborne zygomycete fungus, which is an opportunistic human pathogen in immunocompromised patients. The fungus can cause life-threatening diseases by attacking the lung during early stages of invasion and by disseminating during later phases causing systemic infection. Since infections have drastically increased during the last decades, it is a major goal to investigate the mechanisms underlying pathogenicity of L. corymbifera. One of the first barriers, which the fungus needs to cope with in the lung tissue, is phagocytosis by alveolar macrophages. Here, we report on phagocytosis assays for murine alveolar macrophages co-incubated with resting, swollen and opsonised spores of a virulent and an attenuated L. corymbifera strain. A major finding of this study is the significantly increased phagocytosis ratio of the virulent strain if compared to the attenuated strain. We quantify the phagocytosis by performing automated analysis of fluorescence microscopy images and by computing ratios for (i) fungal phagocytosis, (ii) fungal adhesion to phagocytes and (iii) fungal aggregation and spore cluster distribution in space. Automation of the image analysis yields objective results that overcome the disadvantages of manual analyses being time consuming, error-prone and subjective. Therefore, it can be expected that automated image analysis of confrontation assays will play a crucial role in future investigations of host-pathogen interactions.

Authors: , H. R. Park, H. M. Dahse, C. Skerka, K. Voigt,

Date Published: 1st Sep 2014

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

Beyond its well-documented role in reproduction, embryogenesis and maintenance of body tissues, vitamin A has attracted considerable attention due to its immunomodulatory effects on both the innate and the adaptive immune responses. In infectious diseases, vitamin A has been shown to have a host-protective effect in infections of bacterial, viral or protozoan origin. Nevertheless, its impact in fungal infections remains unknown. Meanwhile, the frequency of invasive mycoses keeps on growing, with Candida albicans being the major opportunistic fungal pathogen and associated with high mortality. In the present work, we explored the impact of all-trans retinoic acid (atRA), the most active metabolite of vitamin A, on the innate immune response against C. albicans in human monocytes. Our results show a strong immunomodulatory role for atRA, leading to a significant down-regulation of the fungi-induced expression and secretion of the pro-inflammatory cytokines TNFalpha, IL6 and IL12. Moreover, atRA significantly suppressed the expression of Dectin-1, a major fungal pattern recognition receptor, as well as the Dectin-1-dependent cytokine production. Both RAR-dependent and RAR-independent mechanisms seem to play a role in the atRA-mediated immunomodulation. Our findings open a new direction to elucidate the role of vitamin A on the immune function during fungal infections.

Authors: , A. Hanisch, J. Brauer, E. Klaile, K. A. Heyl, M. K. Mansour, J. M. Tam, J. M. Vyas,

Date Published: 17th Aug 2014

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

Streptomyces iranensis HM 35 has been shown to exhibit 72.7% DNA-DNA similarity to the important drug rapamycin (sirolimus)-producing Streptomyces rapamycinicus NRRL5491. Here, we report the genome sequence of HM 35, which represents a partially overlapping repertoire of secondary metabolite gene clusters with S. rapamycinicus, including the gene cluster for rapamycin biosynthesis.

Authors: F. Horn, V. Schroeckh, T. Netzker, , ,

Date Published: 19th Jul 2014

Publication Type: Not specified

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