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 NF?B 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 NF?B 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.
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 functions 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 tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-?). 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 intraphagosomal survival of C. glabrata.
The pathology of vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) caused by Candida albicans is associated with a nonprotective inflammatory response and is frequently treated with clotrimazole. We investigated the mechanisms by which clotrimazole resolves VVC. Low levels of clotrimazole, which do not block fungal growth, inhibit expression of a "danger response" transcription factor, c-Fos, block production of proinflammatory cytokines, and inhibit neutrophil infiltration to the site of infection.
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