Abstract (Expand)

Murine infection models are widely used to study systemic candidiasis caused by C. albicans. Whole-blood models can help to elucidate host-pathogens interactions and have been used for several Candida species in human blood. We adapted the human whole-blood model to murine blood. Unlike human blood, murine blood was unable to reduce fungal burden and more substantial filamentation of C. albicans was observed. This coincided with less fungal association with leukocytes, especially neutrophils. The lower neutrophil number in murine blood only partially explains insufficient infection and filamentation control, as spiking with murine neutrophils had only limited effects on fungal killing. Furthermore, increased fungal survival is not mediated by enhanced filamentation, as a filament-deficient mutant was likewise not eliminated. We also observed host-dependent differences for interaction of platelets with C. albicans, showing enhanced platelet aggregation, adhesion and activation in murine blood. For human blood, opsonization was shown to decrease platelet interaction suggesting that complement factors interfere with fungus-to-platelet binding. Our results reveal substantial differences between murine and human whole-blood models infected with C. albicans and thereby demonstrate limitations in the translatability of this ex vivo model between hosts.

Authors: S. Machata, S. Sreekantapuram, Kerstin Hünniger, Oliver Kurzai, C. Dunker, K. Schubert, Wibke Krüger, B. Schulze-Richter, C. Speth, G. Rambach, Ilse Jacobsen

Date Published: 1st Feb 2021

Journal: Front Immunol

Abstract (Expand)

Only four species, Candida albicans, C. glabrata, C. parapsilosis, and C. tropicalis, together account for about 90% of all Candida bloodstream infections and are among the most common causes of invasive fungal infections of humans. However, virulence potential varies among these species, and the phylogenetic tree reveals that their pathogenicity may have emerged several times independently during evolution. We therefore tested these four species in a human whole-blood infection model to determine, via comprehensive dual-species RNA-sequencing analyses, which fungal infection strategies are conserved and which are recent evolutionary developments. The ex vivo infection progressed from initial immune cell interactions to nearly complete killing of all fungal cells. During the course of infection, we characterized important parameters of pathogen-host interactions, such as fungal survival, types of interacting immune cells, and cytokine release. On the transcriptional level, we obtained a predominantly uniform and species-independent human response governed by a strong upregulation of proinflammatory processes, which was downregulated at later time points after most of the fungal cells were killed. In stark contrast, we observed that the different fungal species pursued predominantly individual strategies and showed significantly different global transcriptome patterns. Among other findings, our functional analyses revealed that the fungal species relied on different metabolic pathways and virulence factors to survive the host-imposed stress. These data show that adaptation of Candida species as a response to the host is not a phylogenetic trait, but rather has likely evolved independently as a prerequisite to cause human infections.IMPORTANCE To ensure their survival, pathogens have to adapt immediately to new environments in their hosts, for example, during the transition from the gut to the bloodstream. Here, we investigated the basis of this adaptation in a group of fungal species which are among the most common causes of hospital-acquired infections, the Candida species. On the basis of a human whole-blood infection model, we studied which genes and processes are active over the course of an infection in both the host and four different Candida pathogens. Remarkably, we found that, while the human host response during the early phase of infection is predominantly uniform, the pathogens pursue largely individual strategies and each one regulates genes involved in largely disparate processes in the blood. Our results reveal that C. albicans, C. glabrata, C. parapsilosis, and C. tropicalis all have developed individual strategies for survival in the host. This indicates that their pathogenicity in humans has evolved several times independently and that genes which are central for survival in the host for one species may be irrelevant in another.

Authors: P. Kammer, S. McNamara, Thomas Wolf, Theresia Conrad, Stefanie Allert, F. Gerwien, Kerstin Hünniger, Oliver Kurzai, Reinhard Guthke, Bernhard Hube, Jörg Linde, S. Brunke

Date Published: 6th Oct 2020

Journal: mBio

Abstract (Expand)

Th cells integrate signals from their microenvironment to acquire distinct specialization programs for efficient clearance of diverse pathogens or for immunotolerance. Ionic signals have recently been demonstrated to affect T cell polarization and function. Sodium chloride (NaCl) was proposed to accumulate in peripheral tissues upon dietary intake and to promote autoimmunity via the Th17 cell axis. Here, we demonstrate that high-NaCl conditions induced a stable, pathogen-specific, antiinflammatory Th17 cell fate in human T cells in vitro. The p38/MAPK pathway, involving NFAT5 and SGK1, regulated FoxP3 and IL-17A expression in high-NaCl conditions. The NaCl-induced acquisition of an antiinflammatory Th17 cell fate was confirmed in vivo in an experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) mouse model, which demonstrated strongly reduced disease symptoms upon transfer of T cells polarized in high-NaCl conditions. However, NaCl was coopted to promote murine and human Th17 cell pathogenicity, if T cell stimulation occurred in a proinflammatory and TGF-beta-low cytokine microenvironment. Taken together, our findings reveal a context-dependent, dichotomous role for NaCl in shaping Th17 cell pathogenicity. NaCl might therefore prove beneficial for the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases in combination with cytokine-blocking drugs.

Authors: J. Matthias, S. Heink, F. Picard, J. Zeitrag, A. Kolz, Y. Y. Chao, D. Soll, G. P. de Almeida, E. Glasmacher, Ilse Jacobsen, T. Riedel, A. Peters, S. Floess, J. Huehn, D. Baumjohann, M. Huber, T. Korn, C. E. Zielinski

Date Published: 1st Sep 2020

Journal: J Clin Invest

Abstract (Expand)

Persistent inflammation is a hallmark of many human diseases, including anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody-associated vasculitis (AAV) and atherosclerosis. Here, we describe a dominant trigger of inflammation: human serum factor H-related protein FHR1. In vitro, this protein selectively binds to necrotic cells via its N-terminus; in addition, it binds near necrotic glomerular sites of AAV patients and necrotic areas in atherosclerotic plaques. FHR1, but not factor H, FHR2 or FHR3 strongly induces inflammasome NLRP3 in blood-derived human monocytes, which subsequently secrete IL-1beta, TNFalpha, IL-18 and IL-6. FHR1 triggers the phospholipase C-pathway via the G-protein coupled receptor EMR2 independent of complement. Moreover, FHR1 concentrations of AAV patients negatively correlate with glomerular filtration rates and associate with the levels of inflammation and progressive disease. These data highlight an unexpected role for FHR1 during sterile inflammation, may explain why FHR1-deficiency protects against certain diseases, and identifies potential targets for treatment of auto-inflammatory diseases.

Authors: Sarah Irmscher, S. R. Brix, Peter Zipfel, Luke Donald Halder, S. Mutluturk, S. Wulf, E. Girdauskas, H. Reichenspurner, R. A. K. Stahl, Berit Jungnickel, T. Wiech, Peter Zipfel, Christine Skerka

Date Published: 4th Jul 2019

Journal: Nat Commun

Abstract (Expand)

Pneumococcal hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) in children is caused by infections with Streptococcus pneumoniae. Because endothelial cell damage is a hallmark of HUS, we studied how HUS-inducing pneumococci derived from infant HUS patients during the acute phase disrupt the endothelial layer. HUS pneumococci efficiently bound human plasminogen. These clinical isolates of HUS pneumococci efficiently bound human plasminogen via the bacterial surface proteins Tuf and PspC. When activated to plasmin at the bacterial surface, the active protease degraded fibrinogen and cleaved C3b. Here, we show that PspC is a pneumococcal plasminogen receptor and that plasmin generated on the surface of HUS pneumococci damages endothelial cells, causing endothelial retraction and exposure of the underlying matrix. Thus, HUS pneumococci damage endothelial cells in the blood vessels and disturb local complement homeostasis. Thereby, HUS pneumococci promote a thrombogenic state that drives HUS pathology.

Authors: C. Meinel, G. Sparta, H. M. Dahse, F. Horhold, R. Konig, M. Westermann, S. M. Coldewey, Z. Cseresnyes, Marc Thilo Figge, S. Hammerschmidt, Christine Skerka, Peter Zipfel

Date Published: 17th Jan 2018

Journal: J Infect Dis

Abstract (Expand)

Within the last two decades, the incidence of invasive fungal infections has been significantly increased. They are characterized by high mortality rates and are often caused by Candida albicans and Aspergillus fumigatus. The increasing number of infections underlines the necessity for additional anti-fungal therapies, which require extended knowledge of gene regulations during fungal infection. MicroRNAs are regulators of important cellular processes, including the immune response. By analyzing their regulation and impact on target genes, novel therapeutic and diagnostic approaches may be developed. Here, we examine the role of microRNAs in human dendritic cells during fungal infection. Dendritic cells represent the bridge between the innate and the adaptive immune systems. Therefore, analysis of gene regulation of dendritic cells is of particular significance. By applying next-generation sequencing of small RNAs, we quantify microRNA expression in monocyte-derived dendritic cells after 6 and 12 h of infection with C. albicans and A. fumigatus as well as treatment with lipopolysaccharides (LPS). We identified 26 microRNAs that are differentially regulated after infection by the fungi or LPS. Three and five of them are specific for fungal infections after 6 and 12 h, respectively. We further validated interactions of miR-132-5p and miR-212-5p with immunological relevant target genes, such as FKBP1B, KLF4, and SPN, on both RNA and protein level. Our results indicate that these microRNAs fine-tune the expression of immune-related target genes during fungal infection. Beyond that, we identified previously undiscovered microRNAs. We validated three novel microRNAs via qRT-PCR. A comparison with known microRNAs revealed possible relations with the miR-378 family and miR-1260a/b for two of them, while the third one features a unique sequence with no resemblance to known microRNAs. In summary, this study analyzes the effect of known microRNAs in dendritic cells during fungal infections and proposes novel microRNAs that could be experimentally verified.

Authors: Andreas Dix, K. Czakai, I. Leonhardt, K. Schaferhoff, M. Bonin, Reinhard Guthke, Hermann Einsele, Oliver Kurzai, Jürgen Löffler, Jörg Linde

Date Published: 11th Mar 2017

Journal: Front Microbiol

Abstract (Expand)

Mushrooms, such as Schizophyllum commune, have a specific odor. Whether this is linked to mating, prerequisite for mushroom formation, or also found in monokaryotic, unmated strains, was investigated with a comprehensive study on the transcriptome and proteome of this model organism. Mating interactions were investigated using a complete, cytosolic proteome map for unmated, monokaryotic, as well as for mated, dikaryotic mycelia. The regulations of the proteome were compared to transcriptional changes upon mating and to changes in smell by volatilome studies. We could show a good overlap between proteome and transcriptome data, but extensive posttranslational regulation was identified for more than 80% of transcripts. This suggests down-stream regulation upon interaction of mating partners and formation of the dikaryon that is competent to form fruiting bodies. The volatilome was shown to respond to mating by a broader spectrum of volatiles and increased emission of the mushroom smell molecules 3-octanone and 1-octen-3-ol, as well as ethanol and beta-bisabolol in the dikaryon. Putatively involved biosynthetic proteins like alcohol dehydrogenases, Ppo-like oxygenases, or sesquiterpene synthases showed correlating transcriptional regulation depending on either mono- or dikaryotic stages.

Authors: D. Freihorst, M. Brunsch, S. Wirth, K. Krause, Olaf Kniemeyer, Jörg Linde, M. Kunert, W. Boland, E. Kothe

Date Published: 7th Sep 2016

Journal: Fungal Genet Biol

Abstract (Expand)

BACKGROUND: Although Candida albicans and Candida dubliniensis are most closely related, both species behave significantly different with respect to morphogenesis and virulence. In order to gain further insight into the divergent routes for morphogenetic adaptation in both species, we investigated qualitative along with quantitative differences in the transcriptomes of both organisms by cDNA deep sequencing. RESULTS: Following genome-associated assembly of sequence reads we were able to generate experimentally verified databases containing 6016 and 5972 genes for C. albicans and C. dubliniensis, respectively. About 95% of the transcriptionally active regions (TARs) contain open reading frames while the remaining TARs most likely represent non-coding RNAs. Comparison of our annotations with publically available gene models for C. albicans and C. dubliniensis confirmed approximately 95% of already predicted genes, but also revealed so far unknown novel TARs in both species. Qualitative cross-species analysis of these databases revealed in addition to 5802 orthologs also 399 and 49 species-specific protein coding genes for C. albicans and C. dubliniensis, respectively. Furthermore, quantitative transcriptional profiling using RNA-Seq revealed significant differences in the expression of orthologs across both species. We defined a core subset of 84 hyphal-specific genes required for both species, as well as a set of 42 genes that seem to be specifically induced during hyphal morphogenesis in C. albicans. CONCLUSIONS: Species-specific adaptation in C. albicans and C. dubliniensis is governed by individual genetic repertoires but also by altered regulation of conserved orthologs on the transcriptional level.

Authors: C. Grumaz, S. Lorenz, P. Stevens, E. Lindemann, U. Schock, J. Retey, S. Rupp, K. Sohn

Date Published: 4th Apr 2013

Journal: BMC Genomics

Abstract (Expand)

Non-invasive imaging techniques in microbial disease models have delivered valuable insights in the intimate pathogen-host interplay during infection. Here we describe evaluation and validation of a transgenic bioluminescence reporter strain of the human-pathogenic mold Aspergillus fumigatus, one of the main fungal pathogens affecting immunocompromised individuals. Expression and surface display of the Gaussia princeps luciferase allowed sensitive and rapid detection of luminescence emitted from this strain after substrate addition, with photon fluxes strongly correlating to the amounts of fungal conidia or germlings. The reporter strain allowed spatio-temporal monitoring of infection in a cutaneous model of aspergillosis, where neutropenic mice maintained the fungal burden while immunocompetent ones were able to clear it entirely. Most importantly, antifungal therapy could be followed in this type of disease model making use of the bioluminescent A. fumigatus strain. In conclusion, combining sensitivity of the Gaussia luciferase with a surface display expression system in the fungal host allows longitudinal infection studies on cutaneous forms of aspergillosis, providing perspective on drug screening approaches at high-throughput.

Authors: Stefanie Donat, Mike Hasenberg, Tina Schäfer, Knut Ohlsen, Matthias Gunzer, Hermann Einsele, Jürgen Löffler, Andreas Beilhack, Sven Krappmann

Date Published: 2012

Journal: Virulence

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