[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Candida glabrata is one of the most common causes of candidemia, a life-threatening, systemic fungal infection, and is surpassed in frequency only by Candida albicans. Major factors contributing to the success of this opportunistic pathogen include its ability to readily acquire resistance to antifungals and to colonize and adapt to many different niches in the human body. Here we addressed the flexibility and adaptability of C. glabrata during interaction with macrophages with a serial passage approach. Continuous co-incubation of C. glabrata with a murine macrophage cell line for over six months resulted in a striking alteration in fungal morphology: The growth form changed from typical spherical yeasts to pseudohyphae-like structures - a phenotype which was stable over several generations without any selective pressure. Transmission electron microscopy and FACS analyses showed that the filamentous-like morphology was accompanied by changes in cell wall architecture. This altered growth form permitted faster escape from macrophages and increased damage of macrophages. In addition, the evolved strain (Evo) showed transiently increased virulence in a systemic mouse infection model, which correlated with increased organ-specific fungal burden and inflammatory response (TNFalpha and IL-6) in the brain. Similarly, the Evo mutant significantly increased TNFalpha production in the brain on day 2, which is mirrored in macrophages confronted with the Evo mutant, but not with the parental wild type. Whole genome sequencing of the Evo strain, genetic analyses, targeted gene disruption and a reverse microevolution experiment revealed a single nucleotide exchange in the chitin synthase-encoding CHS2 gene as the sole basis for this phenotypic alteration. A targeted CHS2 mutant with the same SNP showed similar phenotypes as the Evo strain under all experimental conditions tested. These results indicate that microevolutionary processes in host-simulative conditions can elicit adaptations of C. glabrata to distinct host niches and even lead to hypervirulent strains.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The opportunistic fungal pathogen Candida glabrata is a frequent cause of candidiasis, causing infections ranging from superficial to life-threatening disseminated disease. The inherent tolerance of C. glabrata to azole drugs makes this pathogen a serious clinical threat. To identify novel genes implicated in antifungal drug tolerance, we have constructed a large-scale C. glabrata deletion library consisting of 619 unique, individually bar-coded mutant strains, each lacking one specific gene, all together representing almost 12% of the genome. Functional analysis of this library in a series of phenotypic and fitness assays identified numerous genes required for growth of C. glabrata under normal or specific stress conditions, as well as a number of novel genes involved in tolerance to clinically important antifungal drugs such as azoles and echinocandins. We identified 38 deletion strains displaying strongly increased susceptibility to caspofungin, 28 of which encoding proteins that have not previously been linked to echinocandin tolerance. Our results demonstrate the potential of the C. glabrata mutant collection as a valuable resource in functional genomics studies of this important fungal pathogen of humans, and to facilitate the identification of putative novel antifungal drug target and virulence genes.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Candida glabrata currently ranks as the second most frequent cause of invasive candidiasis. Our previous work has shown that C. glabrata is adapted to intracellular survival in macrophages and replicates within non-acidified late endosomal-stage phagosomes. In contrast, heat killed yeasts are found in acidified matured phagosomes. In the present study, we aimed at elucidating the processes leading to inhibition of phagosome acidification and maturation. We show that phagosomes containing viable C. glabrata cells do not fuse with pre-labeled lysosomes and possess low phagosomal hydrolase activity. Inhibition of acidification occurs independent of macrophage type (human/murine), differentiation (M1-/M2-type) or activation status (vitamin D3 stimulation). We observed no differential activation of macrophage MAPK or NFκB signaling cascades downstream of pattern recognition receptors after internalization of viable compared to heat killed yeasts, but Syk activation decayed faster in macrophages containing viable yeasts. Thus, delivery of viable yeasts to non-matured phagosomes is likely not triggered by initial recognition events via MAPK or NFκB signaling, but Syk activation may be involved. Although V-ATPase is abundant in C. glabrata phagosomes, the influence of this proton pump on intracellular survival is low since blocking V-ATPase activity with bafilomycin A1 has no influence on fungal viability. Active pH modulation is one possible fungal strategy to change phagosome pH. In fact, C. glabrata is able to alkalinize its extracellular environment, when growing on amino acids as the sole carbon source in vitro. By screening a C. glabrata mutant library we identified genes important for environmental alkalinization that were further tested for their impact on phagosome pH. We found that the lack of fungal mannosyltransferases resulted in severely reduced alkalinization in vitro and in the delivery of C. glabrata to acidified phagosomes. Therefore, protein mannosylation may play a key role in alterations of phagosomal properties caused by C. glabrata.
PLoS ONE 05/2014; 9(5):e96015. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The ability to acquire nutrients during infections is an important attribute in microbial pathogenesis. Amino acids are a valuable source of nitrogen if they can be degraded by the infecting organism. In this work, we analyzed histidine utilization in the fungal pathogen of humans, Candida glabrata. Hemiascomycete fungi, like C. glabrata or Saccharomyces cerevisiae, possess no gene coding for an ammonia-histidine lyase that catalyzes the first step of a major histidine degradation pathway in most other organisms. We show that C. glabrata instead initializes histidine degradation via the aromatic-amino-acid aminotransferase Aro8. Although ARO8 is also present in S. cerevisiae and is induced by extracellular histidine, this yeast cannot use histidine as its sole nitrogen source, possibly due to growth inhibition by a downstream degradation product. Furthermore, C. glabrata only relies on Aro8 for phenylalanine and tryptophan utilization, since ARO8, but not its homologue ARO9 was transcriptionally activated in the presence of these amino acids. Accordingly, an ARO9 deletion had no effect on growth with aromatic amino acids. In contrast, in S. cerevisiae ARO9 is strongly induced by tryptophan and is known to support growth on aromatic amino acids. Differences in the genomic structure of the ARO9 gene between C. glabrata and S. cerevisiae indicate a possible disruption in the regulatory upstream region. Thus, we show that in contrast to S. cerevisiae, C. glabrata has adapted to use histidine as a sole source of nitrogen, and that the aromatic-amino-acid aminotransferase Aro8, but not Aro9, is the enzyme required for this process.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Candida glabrata is both a human fungal commensal and an opportunistic pathogen, which can withstand activities of the immune system. For example, C. glabrata can survive phagocytosis and replicates within macrophages. However, the mechanisms underlying intracellular survival remain unclear. In this work, we used a functional genomic approach to identify C. glabrata determinants necessary for survival within human monocyte-derived macrophages by screening a set of 433 deletion mutants. We identified 23 genes, which are required to resist killing by macrophages. Based on homologies to Saccharomyces cerevisiae orthologs, these genes are putatively involved in cell wall biosynthesis, calcium homeostasis, nutritional and stress response, protein glycosylation or iron homeostasis. Mutants were further characterized using a series of in vitro assays to elucidate the genes' function in survival. We investigated different parameters of C. glabrata-phagocyte interactions: uptake by macrophages, replication within macrophages, phagosomal pH and recognition of mutant cells by macrophages as indicated by production of reactive oxygen species and TNFα. We further studied the cell surface integrity of mutant cells, their ability to grow under nutrient limited conditions and their susceptibility to stress conditions mirroring the harsh environment inside a phagosome. Additionally, resistance to killing by neutrophils was analyzed. Our data support the view that immune evasion is a key aspect of C. glabrata virulence and that increased immune recognition causes increased antifungal activities by macrophages. Furthermore, stress resistance and efficient nutrient acquisition, in particular iron uptake, are crucial for intra-phagosomal survival of C. glabrata.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although Candida glabrata is an important human pathogenic yeast, its pathogenicity mechanisms are largely unknown. Immune evasion strategies seem to play key roles during infection, since very little inflammation is observed in mouse models. Furthermore, C. glabrata multiplies intracellularly after engulfment by macrophages. In this study, we sought to identify the strategies that enable C. glabrata to survive phagosome biogenesis and antimicrobial activities within human monocyte-derived macrophages. We show that, despite significant intracellular proliferation, macrophage damage or apoptosis was not apparent, and production of reactive oxygen species was inhibited. Additionally, with the exception of GM-CSF, levels of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines were only marginally increased. We demonstrate that adhesion to and internalization by macrophages occur within minutes, and recruitment of endosomal early endosomal Ag 1 and lysosomal-associated membrane protein 1 indicates phagosome maturation. However, phagosomes containing viable C. glabrata, but not heat-killed yeasts, failed to recruit cathepsin D and were only weakly acidified. This inhibition of acidification did not require fungal viability, but it had a heat-sensitive surface attribute. Therefore, C. glabrata modifies the phagosome into a nonacidified environment and multiplies until the host cells finally lyse and release the fungi. Our results suggest persistence of C. glabrata within macrophages as a possible immune evasion strategy.
The Journal of Immunology 08/2011; 187(6):3072-86. · 5.36 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pathogenic yeasts, either from the environment or the normal flora, have to face phagocytic cells that constitute the first line of defence during infection. In order to evade or counteract attack by phagocytes, pathogenic yeasts have acquired a repertoire of strategies to survive, colonize and infect the host. In this review we focus on the interaction of yeasts, such as Candida, Histoplasma or Cryptococcus species, with macrophages or neutrophils. We discuss strategies used by these fungi to prevent phagocytosis or to counteract phagocytic activities. We go on to describe the strategies that permit intracellular survival within phagocytes and that may eventually lead to damage of and escape from the phagocyte.
Current opinion in microbiology 08/2010; 13(4):392-400. · 7.87 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pigments contribute to the pathogenicity of many fungi, mainly by protecting fungal cells from host defence activities. Here, we have dissected the biosynthetic pathway of a tryptophan-derived pigment of the human pathogen Candida glabrata, identified key genes involved in pigment production and have begun to elucidate the possible biological function of the pigment. Using transcriptional analyses and a transposon insertion library, we have identified genes associated with pigment production. Targeted deletion mutants revealed that the pigment is a by-product of the Ehrlich pathway of tryptophan degradation: a mutant lacking a tryptophan-upregulated aromatic aminotransferase (Aro8) displayed significantly reduced pigmentation and a recombinantly expressed version of this protein was sufficient for pigment production in vitro. Pigment production is tightly regulated as the synthesis is affected by the presence of alternative nitrogen sources, carbon sources, cyclic AMP and oxygen. Growth of C. glabrata on pigment inducing medium leads to an increased resistance to hydrogen peroxide, an effect which was not observed with a mutant defective in pigmentation. Furthermore, pigmented yeast cells had a higher survival rate when exposed to human neutrophils and caused increased damage in a monolayer model of human epithelia, indicating a possible role of pigmentation during interactions with host cells.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Candida glabrata has emerged as an important fungal pathogen of humans, causing life-threatening infections in immunocompromised patients. In contrast, mice do not develop disease upon systemic challenge, even with high infection doses. In this study we show that leukopenia, but not treatment with corticosteroids, leads to fungal burdens that are transiently increased over those in immunocompetent mice. However, even immunocompetent mice were not capable of clearing infections within 4 weeks. Tissue damage and immune responses to microabscesses were mild as monitored by clinical parameters, including blood enzyme levels, histology, myeloperoxidase, and cytokine levels. Furthermore, we investigated the suitability of amino acid auxotrophic C. glabrata strains for in vitro and in vivo studies of fitness and/or virulence. Histidine, leucine, or tryptophan auxotrophy, as well as a combination of these auxotrophies, did not influence in vitro growth in rich medium. The survival of all auxotrophic strains in immunocompetent mice was similar to that of the parental wild-type strain during the first week of infection and was only mildly reduced 4 weeks after infection, suggesting that C. glabrata is capable of utilizing a broad range of host-derived nutrients during infection. These data suggest that C. glabrata histidine, leucine, or tryptophan auxotrophic strains are suitable for the generation of knockout mutants for in vivo studies. Notably, our work indicates that C. glabrata has successfully developed immune evasion strategies enabling it to survive, disseminate, and persist within mammalian hosts.
Infection and immunity 12/2009; 78(3):1066-77. · 4.16 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The human pathogenic yeast Candida albicans can cause an unusually broad range of infections reflecting a remarkable potential to adapt to various microniches within the human host. The exceptional adaptability of C. albicans is mediated by rapid alterations in gene expression in response to various environmental stimuli and this transcriptional flexibility can be monitored with tools such as microarrays. Using such technology it is possible to (1) capture a genome-wide portrait of the transcriptome that mirrors the environmental conditions, (2) identify known genes, signalling pathways and transcription factors involved in pathogenesis, (3) identify new patterns of gene expression and (4) identify previously uncharacterized genes that may be associated with infection. In this review, we describe the molecular dissection of three distinct stages of infections, covering both superficial and invasive disease, using in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo infection models and microarrays.
FEMS Yeast Research 05/2009; 9(5):688-700. · 2.44 Impact Factor