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

Abstract (Expand)

The human pathogenic fungus Aspergillus fumigatus normally lives as a soil saprophyte. Its environment includes poorly oxygenated substrates that also occur during tissue invasive growth of the fungus in the human host. Up to now, few cellular factors have been identified that allow the fungus to efficiently adapt its energy metabolism to hypoxia. Here, we cultivated A. fumigatus in an O2 -controlled fermenter and analysed its responses to O2 limitation on a minute timescale. Transcriptome sequencing revealed several genes displaying a rapid and highly dynamic regulation. One of these genes was analysed in detail and found to encode fungoglobin, a previously uncharacterized member of the sensor globin protein family widely conserved in filamentous fungi. Besides low O2 , iron limitation also induced transcription, but regulation was not entirely dependent on the two major transcription factors involved in adaptation to iron starvation and hypoxia, HapX and SrbA respectively. The protein was identified as a functional haemoglobin, as binding of this cofactor was detected for the recombinant protein. Gene deletion in A. fumigatus confirmed that haem-binding fungoglobins are important for growth in microaerobic environments with O2 levels far lower than in hypoxic human tissue.

Authors: F. Hillmann, , N. Beckmann, M. Cyrulies, M. Strassburger, T. Heinekamp, H. Haas, , ,

Date Published: 7th Jul 2014

Publication Type: Not specified

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

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

OBJECTIVES: Candida albicans is an important fungal pathogen that can cause life-threatening disseminated infections. To determine the efficacy of therapy in murine models, a determination of renal fungal burden as cfu is commonly used. However, this approach provides only a snapshot of the current situation in an individual animal and cryptic sites of infection may easily be missed. Thus, we aimed to develop real-time non-invasive imaging to monitor infection in vivo. METHODS: Bioluminescent C. albicans reporter strains were developed based on a bioinformatical approach for codon optimization. The reporter strains were analysed in vitro and in vivo in the murine model of systemic candidiasis. RESULTS: Reporter strains allowed the in vivo monitoring of infection and a determination of fungal burden, with a high correlation between bioluminescence and cfu count. We confirmed the kidney as the main target organ but additionally observed the translocation of C. albicans to the urinary bladder. The treatment of infected mice with caspofungin and fluconazole significantly improved the clinical outcome and clearance of C. albicans from the kidneys; however, unexpectedly, viable fungal cells persisted in the gall bladder. Fungi were secreted with bile and detected in the faeces, implicating the gall bladder as a reservoir for colonization by C. albicans after antifungal therapy. Bile extracts significantly decreased the susceptibility of C. albicans to various antifungals in vitro, thereby probably contributing to its persistence. CONCLUSIONS: Using in vivo imaging, we identified cryptic sites of infection and persistence of C. albicans in the gall bladder during otherwise effective antifungal treatment. Bile appears to directly interfere with antifungal activity.

Authors: , A. Luttich, , ,

Date Published: 20th Jun 2014

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

Little is known regarding the role of NK cells during primary and secondary disseminated Candida albicans infection. We assessed the role of NK cells for host defense against candidiasis in immunocompetent, as well as immunodeficient, hosts. Surprisingly, depletion of NK cells in immunocompetent WT mice did not increase susceptibility to systemic candidiasis, suggesting that NK cells are redundant for antifungal defense in otherwise immunocompetent hosts. NK-cell-depleted mice were found to be protected as a consequence of attenuation of systemic inflammation. In contrast, the absence of NK cells in T/B/NK-cell-deficient NSG (NOD SCID gamma) mice led to an increased susceptibility to both primary and secondary systemic C. albicans infections compared with T/B-cell-deficient SCID mice. In conclusion, this study demonstrates that NK cells are an essential and nonredundant component of anti-C. albicans host defense in immunosuppressed hosts with defective T/B-lymphocyte immunity, while contributing to hyperinflammation in immunocompetent hosts. The discovery of the importance of NK cells in hosts with severe defects of adaptive immunity might have important consequences for the design of adjunctive immunotherapeutic approaches in systemic C. albicans infections targeting NK-cell function.

Authors: J. Quintin, J. Voigt, R. van der Voort, , I. Verschueren, , E. J. Giamarellos-Bourboulis, J. W. van der Meer, L. A. Joosten, , M. G. Netea

Date Published: 27th May 2014

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

Unlike induced Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells (Foxp3(+) iTreg) that have been shown to play an essential role in the development of protective immunity to the ubiquitous mold Aspergillus fumigatus, type-(1)-regulatory T cells (Tr1) cells have, thus far, not been implicated in this process. Here, we evaluated the role of Tr1 cells specific for an epitope derived from the cell wall glucanase Crf-1 of A. fumigatus (Crf-1/p41) in antifungal immunity. We identified Crf-1/p41-specific latent-associated peptide(+) Tr1 cells in healthy humans and mice after vaccination with Crf-1/p41+zymosan. These cells produced high amounts of interleukin (IL)-10 and suppressed the expansion of antigen-specific T cells in vitro and in vivo. In mice, in vivo differentiation of Tr1 cells was dependent on the presence of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor, c-Maf and IL-27. Moreover, in comparison to Tr1 cells, Foxp3(+) iTreg that recognize the same epitope were induced in an interferon gamma-type inflammatory environment and more potently suppressed innate immune cell activities. Overall, our data show that Tr1 cells are involved in the maintenance of antifungal immune homeostasis, and most likely play a distinct, yet complementary, role compared with Foxp3(+) iTreg.

Authors: , R. G. Iannitti, A. De Luca, G. Giovannini, F. Fallarino, C. Berges, J. P. Latge, H. Einsele, L. Romani,

Date Published: 13th May 2014

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

Oral candidiasis remains one of the most common forms of Candida infections and occurs if the balance between host, Candida and microbiota is disturbed, e.g., by broad spectrum antibiotics or immunosuppression. In recent years, identification of fungal factors contributing to host cell damage and new insights into host defense mechanisms have significantly extended our understanding of the pathogenesis of oral candidiasis. In this review, we will provide an overview of the pathogenicity mechanisms during oral Candida infections and discuss some approaches by which this knowledge could be transferred into therapeutic approaches.

Authors: B. Hebecker, J. R. Naglik, ,

Date Published: 7th May 2014

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

Nitrogen is one of the key nutrients for microbial growth. During infection, pathogenic fungi like C. albicans need to acquire nitrogen from a broad range of different and changing sources inside the host. Detecting the available nitrogen sources and adjusting the expression of genes for their uptake and degradation is therefore crucial for survival and growth as well as for establishing an infection. Here, we analyzed the transcriptional response of C. albicans to nitrogen starvation and feeding with the infection-relevant nitrogen sources arginine and bovine serum albumin (BSA), representing amino acids and proteins, respectively. The response to nitrogen starvation was marked by an immediate repression of protein synthesis and an up-regulation of general amino acid permeases, as well as an up-regulation of autophagal processes in its later stages. Feeding with arginine led to a fast reduction in expression of general permeases for amino acids and to resumption of protein synthesis. The response to BSA feeding was generally slower, and was additionally characterized by an up-regulation of oligopeptide transporter genes. From time-series data, we inferred network interaction models for genes relevant in nitrogen detection and uptake. Each individual network was found to be largely specific for the experimental condition (starvation or feeding with arginine or BSA). In addition, we detected several novel connections between regulator and effector genes, with putative roles in nitrogen uptake. We conclude that C. albicans adopts a particular nitrogen response network, defined by sets of specific gene-gene connections for each environmental condition. All together, they form a grid of possible gene regulatory networks, increasing the transcriptional flexibility of C. albicans.

Authors: S. Ramachandra, , , , , S. Brunke

Date Published: 20th Mar 2014

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

Human fungal pathogens are distributed throughout their kingdom, suggesting that pathogenic potential evolved independently. Candida albicans is the most virulent member of the CUG clade of yeasts and a common cause of both superficial and invasive infections. We therefore hypothesized that C. albicans possesses distinct pathogenicity mechanisms. In silico genome subtraction and comparative transcriptional analysis identified a total of 65 C. albicans-specific genes (ASGs) expressed during infection. Phenotypic characterization of six ASG-null mutants demonstrated that these genes are dispensable for in vitro growth but play defined roles in host-pathogen interactions. Based on these analyses, we investigated two ASGs in greater detail. An orf19.6688Delta mutant was found to be fully virulent in a mouse model of disseminated candidiasis and to induce higher levels of the proinflammatory cytokine interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta) following incubation with murine macrophages. A pga16Delta mutant, on the other hand, exhibited attenuated virulence. Moreover, we provide evidence that secondary filamentation events (multiple hyphae emerging from a mother cell and hyphal branching) contribute to pathogenicity: PGA16 deletion did not influence primary hypha formation or extension following contact with epithelial cells; however, multiple hyphae and hyphal branching were strongly reduced. Significantly, these hyphae failed to damage host cells as effectively as the multiple hypha structures formed by wild-type C. albicans cells. Together, our data show that species-specific genes of a eukaryotic pathogen can play important roles in pathogenicity.

Authors: D. Wilson, F. L. Mayer, P. Miramon, F. Citiulo, S. Slesiona, ,

Date Published: 7th Mar 2014

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

Candida albicans bloodstream infection is increasingly frequent and can result in disseminated candidiasis associated with high mortality rates. To analyze the innate immune response against C. albicans, fungal cells were added to human whole-blood samples. After inoculation, C. albicans started to filament and predominantly associate with neutrophils, whereas only a minority of fungal cells became attached to monocytes. While many parameters of host-pathogen interaction were accessible to direct experimental quantification in the whole-blood infection assay, others were not. To overcome these limitations, we generated a virtual infection model that allowed detailed and quantitative predictions on the dynamics of host-pathogen interaction. Experimental time-resolved data were simulated using a state-based modeling approach combined with the Monte Carlo method of simulated annealing to obtain quantitative predictions on a priori unknown transition rates and to identify the main axis of antifungal immunity. Results clearly demonstrated a predominant role of neutrophils, mediated by phagocytosis and intracellular killing as well as the release of antifungal effector molecules upon activation, resulting in extracellular fungicidal activity. Both mechanisms together account for almost [Formula: see text] of C. albicans killing, clearly proving that beside being present in larger numbers than other leukocytes, neutrophils functionally dominate the immune response against C. albicans in human blood. A fraction of C. albicans cells escaped phagocytosis and remained extracellular and viable for up to four hours. This immune escape was independent of filamentation and fungal activity and not linked to exhaustion or inactivation of innate immune cells. The occurrence of C. albicans cells being resistant against phagocytosis may account for the high proportion of dissemination in C. albicans bloodstream infection. Taken together, iterative experiment-model-experiment cycles allowed quantitative analyses of the interplay between host and pathogen in a complex environment like human blood.

Authors: , T. Lehnert, K. Bieber, R. Martin, ,

Date Published: 20th Feb 2014

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

Plant hormones involving salicylic acid (SA), jasmonic acid (JA), ethylene (Et), and auxin, gibberellins, and abscisic acid (ABA) are known to regulate host immune responses. However, plant hormone cytokinin has the potential to modulate defense signaling including SA and JA. It promotes plant pathogen and herbivore resistance; underlying mechanisms are still unknown. Using systems biology approaches, we unravel hub points of immune interaction mediated by cytokinin signaling in Arabidopsis. High-confidence Arabidopsis protein-protein interactions (PPI) are coupled to changes in cytokinin-mediated gene expression. Nodes of the cellular interactome that are enriched in immune functions also reconstitute sub-networks. Topological analyses and their specific immunological relevance lead to the identification of functional hubs in cellular interactome. We discuss our identified immune hubs in light of an emerging model of cytokinin-mediated immune defense against pathogen infection in plants.

Authors: M. Naseem, M. Kunz,

Date Published: 13th Feb 2014

Publication Type: Not specified

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