Abstract (Expand)

Gliotoxin and related epidithiodiketopiperazines (ETP) from diverse fungi feature highly functionalized hydroindole scaffolds with an array of medicinally and ecologically relevant activities. Mutation analysis, heterologous reconstitution, and biotransformation experiments revealed that a cytochrome P450 monooxygenase (GliF) from the human-pathogenic fungus Aspergillus fumigatus plays a key role in the formation of the complex heterocycle. In vitro assays using a biosynthetic precursor from a blocked mutant showed that GliF is specific to ETPs and catalyzes an unprecedented heterocyclization reaction that cannot be emulated with current synthetic methods. In silico analyses indicate that this rare biotransformation takes place in related ETP biosynthetic pathways.

Authors: D. H. Scharf, P. Chankhamjon, K. Scherlach, J. Dworschak, T. Heinekamp, M. Roth, A. A. Brakhage, C. Hertweck

Date Published: 15th Jan 2021

Journal: Chembiochem

Abstract (Expand)

Pathogenic microorganisms exploit host metabolism for sustained survival by rewiring its metabolic interactions. Therefore, several metabolic changes are induced in both pathogen and host cells in the course of infection. A systems-based approach to elucidate those changes includes the integrative use of genome-scale metabolic networks and molecular omics data, with the overall goal of better characterizing infection mechanisms for novel treatment strategies. This review focuses on novel aspects of metabolism-oriented systems-based investigation of pathogen-human interactions. The reviewed approaches are the generation of dual-omics data for the characterization of metabolic signatures of pathogen-host interactions, the reconstruction of pathogen-host integrated genome-scale metabolic networks, which has a high potential to be applied to pathogen-gut microbiota interactions, and the structure-based analysis of enzymes playing role in those interactions. The integrative use of those approaches will pave the way for the identification of novel biomarkers and drug targets for the prediction and prevention of infectious diseases.

Authors: T. Cakir, Gianni Panagiotou, R. Uddin, S. Durmus

Date Published: 3rd Mar 2020

Journal: Front Cell Infect Microbiol

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

Journal: MBio

Abstract (Expand)

Mitogen activated protein kinases (MAPKs) are highly conserved in eukaryotic organisms. In pathogenic fungi, their activities were assigned to different physiological functions including drug adaptation and resistance. Aspergillus fumigatus is a human pathogenic fungus, which causes life-threatening invasive infections. Therapeutic options against invasive mycoses are still limited. One of the clinically used drugs is caspofungin, which specifically targets the fungal cell wall biosynthesis. A systems biology approach, based on comprehensive transcriptome data sets and mathematical modeling, was employed to infer a regulatory network and identify key interactions during adaptation to caspofungin stress in A. fumigatus. Mathematical modeling and experimental validations confirmed an intimate cross talk occurring between the cell wall-integrity and the high osmolarity-glycerol signaling pathways. Specifically, increased concentrations of caspofungin promoted activation of these signalings. Moreover, caspofungin affected the intracellular transport, which caused an additional osmotic stress that is independent of glucan inhibition. High concentrations of caspofungin reduced this osmotic stress, and thus decreased its toxic activity. Our results demonstrated that MAPK signaling pathways play a key role during caspofungin adaptation and are contributing to the paradoxical effect exerted by this drug.

Authors: R. Altwasser, C. Baldin, J. Weber, Reinhard Guthke, O. Kniemeyer, Axel Brakhage, Jörg Linde, V. Valiante

Date Published: 10th Sep 2015

Journal: PLoS One

Abstract (Expand)

Candida albicans and Candida glabrata account for the majority of candidiasis cases worldwide. Although both species are in the same genus, they differ in key virulence attributes. Within this work, live cell imaging was used to examine the dynamics of neutrophil activation after confrontation with either C. albicans or C. glabrata. Analyses revealed higher phagocytosis rates of C. albicans than C. glabrata that resulted in stronger PMN (polymorphonuclear cells) activation by C. albicans. Furthermore, we observed differences in the secretion of chemokines, indicating chemotactic differences in PMN signalling towards recruitment of further immune cells upon confrontation with Candida spp. Supernatants from co-incubations of neutrophils with C. glabrata primarily attracted monocytes and increased the phagocytosis of C. glabrata by monocytes. In contrast, PMN activation by C. albicans resulted in recruitment of more neutrophils. Two complex infection models confirmed distinct targeting of immune cell populations by the two Candida spp.: In a human whole blood infection model, C. glabrata was more effectively taken up by monocytes than C. albicans and histopathological analyses of murine model infections confirmed primarily monocytic infiltrates in C. glabrata kidney infection in contrast to PMN-dominated infiltrates in C. albicans infection. Taken together, our data demonstrate that the human opportunistic fungi C. albicans and C. glabrata are differentially recognized by neutrophils and one outcome of this differential recognition is the preferential uptake of C. glabrata by monocytes.

Authors: S. Duggan, F. Essig, Kerstin Hünniger, Z. Mokhtari, Michael Bauer, T. Lehnert, S. Brandes, A. Hader, Ilse Jacobsen, R. Martin, Marc Thilo Figge, Oliver Kurzai

Date Published: 5th May 2015

Journal: Cell Microbiol

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