Clotrimazole and bifonazole are highly effective antifungal agents against mucosal Candida albicans infections. Here we examined the effects of low levels of clotrimazole and bifonazole on the ability of C. albicans to adhere, invade, and damage vaginal epithelial cells. Although adhesion and invasion were not affected, damage was greatly reduced upon azole treatment. This clearly indicates that low levels of azoles influence specific activities of C. albicans during distinct stages of vaginal epithelium infections.
Oral infections with Candida albicans are very common diseases in even only mildly immunocompromised patients. By using genome-wide microarrays, in vitro infection models and samples from patients with pseudomembranous candidiasis, several genes have been identified which encode known and unknown fungal factors associated with oral infection. The expression of selected genes has been investigated via qRT-PCR in both in vitro models and in vivo samples from patients. Several lines of evidence suggest that fungal morphology plays a key role in adhesion to and invasion into oral epithelial cells and mutants lacking regulators of hyphal formation are attenuated in their ability to invade and damage epithelial cells. Adhesion is mediated by hyphal-associated factors such as Hwp1 and the Als adhesin family. Hyphal formation facilitates epithelial invasion via two routes: active penetration and induced endocytosis. While induced endocytosis is predominantly mediated by the adhesin and invasin Als3, active penetration seems to be supported by hydrolase activity and mechanical pressure. Expression profiles reflect the morphological switch and an adaptive response to neutral pH, non-glucose carbon sources, and nitrosative stress.
Candida albicans interactions with epithelial cells are critical for commensal growth, fungal pathogenicity and host defence. This review will outline our current understanding of C. albicans-epithelial interactions and will discuss how this may lead to the induction of a protective mucosal immune response.
Candida albicans frequently causes superficial infections by invading and damaging epithelial cells, but may also cause systemic infections by penetrating through epithelial barriers. C. albicans is an unusual pathogen because it can invade epithelial cells via two distinct mechanisms: induced endocytosis, analogous to facultative intracellular enteropathogenic bacteria, and active penetration, similar to plant pathogenic fungi. Here we investigated the molecular basis of C. albicans epithelial interactions. By systematically assessing the contributions of defined fungal pathways and factors to different stages of epithelial interactions, we provide an expansive portrait of the processes and activities involved in epithelial infection. We strengthen the concept that hyphal formation is critical for epithelial invasion. Importantly, our data support a model whereby initial epithelial invasion per se does not elicit host damage, but that C. albicans relies on a combination of contact-sensing, directed hyphal extension, active penetration and the expression of novel pathogenicity factors for further inter-epithelial invasion, dissemination and ultimate damage of host cells. Finally, we explore the transcriptional landscape of C. albicans during the early stages of epithelial interaction, and, via genetic analysis, identify ICL1 and PGA34 as novel oral epithelial pathogenicity factors.
The conifer Picea abies (Norway spruce) defends itself against herbivores and pathogens with a terpenoid-based oleoresin composed chiefly of monoterpenes (C(10)) and diterpenes (C(20)). An important group of enzymes in oleoresin biosynthesis are the short-chain isoprenyl diphosphate synthases that produce geranyl diphosphate (C(10)), farnesyl diphosphate (C(15)), and geranylgeranyl diphosphate (C(20)) as precursors of different terpenoid classes. We isolated a gene from P. abies via a homology-based polymerase chain reaction approach that encodes a short-chain isoprenyl diphosphate synthase making an unusual mixture of two products, geranyl diphosphate (C(10)) and geranylgeranyl diphosphate (C(20)). This bifunctionality was confirmed by expression in both prokaryotic (Escherichia coli) and eukaryotic (P. abies embryogenic tissue) hosts. Thus, this isoprenyl diphosphate synthase, designated PaIDS1, could contribute to the biosynthesis of both major terpene types in P. abies oleoresin. In saplings, PaIDS1 transcript was restricted to wood and bark, and transcript level increased dramatically after methyl jasmonate treatment, which induces the formation of new (traumatic) resin ducts. Polyclonal antibodies localized the PaIDS1 protein to the epithelial cells surrounding the traumatic resin ducts. PaIDS1 has a close phylogenetic relationship to single-product conifer geranyl diphosphate and geranylgeranyl diphosphate synthases. Its catalytic properties and reaction mechanism resemble those of conifer geranylgeranyl diphosphate synthases, except that significant quantities of the intermediate geranyl diphosphate are released. Using site-directed mutagenesis and chimeras of PaIDS1 with single-product geranyl diphosphate and geranylgeranyl diphosphate synthases, specific amino acid residues were identified that alter the relative composition of geranyl to geranylgeranyl diphosphate.
The human pathogenic fungus Candida albicans can cause systemic infections by invading epithelial barriers to gain access to the bloodstream. One of the main reservoirs of C. albicans is the gastrointestinal tract and systemic infections predominantly originate from this niche. In this study, we used scanning electron and fluorescence microscopy, adhesion, invasion and damage assays, fungal mutants and a set of fungal and host cell inhibitors to investigate the interactions of C. albicans with oral epithelial cells and enterocytes. Our data demonstrate that adhesion, invasion and damage by C. albicans depend not only on fungal morphology and activity, but also on the epithelial cell type and the differentiation stage of the epithelial cells, indicating that epithelial cells differ in their susceptibility to the fungus. C. albicans can invade epithelial cells by induced endocytosis and/or active penetration. However, depending on the host cell faced by the fungus, these routes are exploited to a different extent. While invasion into oral cells occurs via both routes, invasion into intestinal cells occurs only via active penetration.
Candida albicans frequently causes superficial infections by invading and damaging epithelial cells, but may also cause systemic infections by penetrating through epithelial barriers. C. albicans is a remarkable pathogen because it can invade epithelial cells via two distinct mechanisms: induced endocytosis, analogous to facultative intracellular enteropathogenic bacteria, and active penetration, similar to plant pathogenic fungi. Here we investigated the contributions of the two invasion routes of C. albicans to epithelial invasion. Using selective cellular inhibition approaches and differential fluorescence microscopy, we demonstrate that induced endocytosis contributes considerably to the early time points of invasion, while active penetration represents the dominant epithelial invasion route. Although induced endocytosis depends mainly on Als3-E-cadherin interactions, we observed E-cadherin independent induced endocytosis. Finally, we provide evidence of a protective role for serum factors in oral infection: human serum strongly inhibited C. albicans adhesion to, invasion and damage of oral epithelial cells.
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