Current methods of DNA extraction from different fungal pathogens are often time-consuming and require the use of toxic chemicals. DNA isolation from some fungal organisms is difficult due to cell walls or capsules that are not readily susceptible to lysis. We therefore investigated a new and rapid DNA isolation method using high-speed cell disruption (HSCD) incorporating chaotropic reagents and lysing matrices in comparison to standard phenol-chloroform (PC) extraction protocols for isolation of DNA from three medically important yeasts (Candida albicans, Cryptococcus neoformans, and Trichosporon beigelii) and two filamentous fungi (Aspergillus fumigatus and Fusarium solani). Additional extractions by HSCD were performed on Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Pseudallescheria boydii, and Rhizopus arrhizus. Two different inocula (108 and 107 CFU) were compared for optimization of obtained yields. The entire extraction procedure was performed on as many as 12 samples within 1 h compared to 6 h for PC extraction. In comparison to the PC procedure, HSCD DNA extraction demonstrated significantly greater yields for 108 CFU of C. albicans, T. beigelii, A. fumigatus, and F. solani (P ≤ 0.005), 107 CFU of C. neoformans (P ≤ 0.05), and 107 CFU of A. fumigatus (P ≤ 0.01). Yields were within the same range for 108 CFU of C. neoformans and 107 CFU of C. albicans for both HSCD extraction and PC extraction. For 107 CFU of T. beigelii, PC extraction resulted in a greater yield than did HSCD (P ≤ 0.05). Yields obtained from 108 and 107 CFU were significantly greater for filamentous fungi than for yeasts by the HSCD extraction procedure (P < 0.0001). By the PC extraction procedure, differences were not significant. For all eight organisms, the rapid extraction procedure resulted in good yield, integrity, and quality of DNA as demonstrated by restriction fragment length polymorphism, PCR, and random amplified polymorphic DNA. We conclude that mechanical disruption of fungal cells by HSCD is a safe, rapid, and efficient procedure for extracting genomic DNA from medically important yeasts and especially from filamentous fungi.
A Luminex suspension array, which had been developed for identification of Cryptococcus neoformans and Cryptococcus gattii isolates, was tested by genotyping a set of 58 mostly clinical isolates. All genotypes of C. neoformans and C. gattii were included. In addition, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) obtained from patients with cryptococcal meningitis was used to investigate the feasibility of the technique for identification of the infecting strain. The suspension array correctly identified haploid isolates in all cases. Furthermore, hybrid isolates possessing two alleles of the Luminex probe region could be identified as hybrids. In CSF specimens, the genotype of the cryptococcal strains responsible for infection could be identified after optimization of the PCR conditions. However, further optimization of the DNA extraction protocol is needed to enhance the usability of the method in clinical practice.
A rapid and easy method for the extraction of total cellular DNA from Cryptococcus neoformans is described. This procedure modifies and considerably simplifies previously reported methods. Numerous steps were either eliminated or replaced, including preincubations with cell wall permeability agents such as beta-mercaptoethanol and dithiothreitol. The commercially available enzyme preparation Novozyme 234 was found to contain a potent concentration of DNases which actively degrade DNA. Degradation and loss of DNA was prevented by maintaining a high concentration of EDTA in the lysing solution. This procedure resulted in high yields (150 to 200 micrograms of DNA from 100 ml of culture) of good-quality (undegraded), high-molecular-weight DNA which was readily digested by restriction endonucleases, making it suitable for use in various molecular applications.
Strains of Cryptococcus neoformans vary in resistance to phagocytosis in vitro. The binding of isolated capsular polysaccharide (CPS) to a capsule-free mutant of C. neoformans confers resistance to phagocytosis. The importance of capsule composition to differences among strains in susceptibility to phagocytosis was evaluated. CPSs from five strains of C. neoformans serotype A, designated 6, 15, 98, 110, and 145, which had previously been isolated and characterized as to molecular size, composition, and binding properties, were evaluated for relative antiphagocytic potencies. In the presence of 5% normal isologous serum, murine thioglycolate-elicited peritoneal macrophages phagocytized (i.e., attached to or engulfed) 80% of 51Cr-labeled cells of C. neoformans 602, a capsule-free mutant. Added CPS inhibited the uptake of these yeast cells. CPS from strain 110 was most potent, followed in decreasing order of inhibitory activity by CPSs from strains 6, 145, 98, and 15. The presence of 100 micrograms of strain 110 CPS per ml reduced uptake of cells of strain 602 from 80 to 50%. CPS had no effect on the uptake of 51Cr-labeled Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Cells of strain 602 that were preincubated with CPS and then washed were more resistant to phagocytosis than nonpretreated control cells, indicating the importance of bound, not free, CPS. Added CPS did not affect the uptake of wild-type, encapsulated cells of C. neoformans. Addition of endotoxin had no effect on phagocytosis. CPSs from strains of C. neoformans serotype A varied widely in their abilities to inhibit the uptake of capsule-free cells. The antiphagocytic activity of CPS did not correlate with the ability to bind to capsule-free mutant but was somewhat related to the capsule size of the strain from which the CPS was isolated.
Invasive fungal infections cause considerable morbidity and mortality in immunocompromised hosts. Pigeon droppings could especially be a potential carrier in the spread of pathogenic yeasts and mold fungi into the environment. The objective of this study was to isolation of Cryptococcus neoformans and other opportunistic fungi from pigeon droppings.
Materials and Methods:
One hundred twenty samples of pigeon droppings were suspended 1:10 in saline solution and then cultured. Identification of C. neoformans was performed on bird seed agar, presence of a capsule on India ink preparation, urease production on urea agar medium and RapID yeast plus system. The identification of candida species was based on micro-morphological analysis on corn meal-Tween 80 agar, RapID yeast plus system and growth in CHROMagar candida. The identification of other fungi was based on macromorphologic, microscopic, biochemical and physiological characteristics.
The highest frequency of yeasts and mold fungi were observed in Candida albicans 6.6% and Penicillium spp. 25%. The frequency rate of C. neoformans isolation was 2.5%.
Several types of fungi are present in pigeon droppings that can spread in environment and transmit to children and elderly as well as immunocompromised patients who are at increased risk of contracting opportunistic diseases.
Cryptococcus neoformans; candida albicans; immunocompromised hosts; opportunistic fungi; pigeon droppings
Rapid identification of Cryptococcus neoformans var. grubii, Cryptococcus neoformans var. neoformans, and Cryptococcus gattii is imperative for facilitation of prompt treatment of cryptococcosis and for understanding the epidemiology of the disease. Our purpose was to evaluate a test algorithm incorporating commercial rapid biochemical tests, differential media, and DNA sequence analysis that will allow us to differentiate these taxa rapidly and accurately. We assessed 147 type, reference, and clinical isolates, including 6 other Cryptococcus spp. (10 isolates) and 14 other yeast species (24 isolates), using a 4-hour urea broth test (Remel), a 24-hour urea broth test (Becton Dickinson), a 4-hour caffeic acid disk test (Hardy Diagnostics and Remel), 40- to 44-hour growth assessment on l-canavanine glycine bromothymol blue (CGB) agar, and intergenic spacer (IGS) sequence analysis. All 123 Cryptococcus isolates hydrolyzed urea, along with 7 isolates of Rhodotorula and Trichosporon. Eighty-five of 86 C. neoformans (99%) and 26 of 27 C. gattii (96%) isolates had positive caffeic acid results, unlike the other cryptococci (0/10) and yeast species (0/24). Together, these two tests positively identified virtually all C. neoformans/C. gattii isolates (98%) within 4 h. CGB agar or IGS sequencing further differentiated these isolates within 48 h. On CGB, 25 of 27 (93%) C. gattii strains induced a blue color change, in contrast to 0 of 86 C. neoformans isolates. Neighbor-joining cluster analysis of IGS sequences differentiated C. neoformans var. grubii, C. neoformans var. neoformans, and C. gattii. Based on these results, we describe a rapid identification algorithm for use in a microbiology laboratory to distinguish clinically relevant Cryptococcus spp.
Little is known about the molecular epidemiology of the human pathogenic fungus Cryptococcus neoformans in India, a country now in the midst of an epidemic of AIDS-related cryptococcosis. We studied 57 clinical isolates from several regions in India, of which 51 were C. neoformans var. grubii, 1 was C. neoformans var. neoformans, and 5 were C. neoformans var. gattii. This strain set included 18 additional sequential isolates from 14 patients. Strains were characterized phenotypically by measuring the polysaccharide capsule and by determining the MICs of standard antifungals. Molecular typing was performed by a PCR-based method using the minisatellite-specific core sequence (M13), by electrophoretic karyotyping, by restriction fragment length polymorphisms with the C. neoformans transposon 1 (TCN-1), and by URA5 DNA sequence analysis. Overall, Indian isolates were less heterogeneous than isolates from other regions and included a subset that clustered into one group based on URA5 DNA sequence analysis. In summary, our results demonstrate (i) differences in genetic diversity of C. neoformans isolates from India compared to isolates from other regions in the world; (ii) that DNA typing with the TCN-1 probe can adequately distinguish C. neoformans var. grubii strains; (iii) that TCN-1 sequences are absent in many C. neoformans var. gattii strains, supporting previous studies indicating that these strains have a limited geographical dispersal; and (iv) that human cryptococcal infection can be associated with microevolution of the infecting strain and by simultaneous coinfection with two distinct C. neoformans strains.
AIMS--To evaluate the ability of four rapid DNA extraction methods to provide DNA for the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) from routinely fixed, paraffin wax embedded archival tissues. METHODS--Eighteen blocks of various tissues, 18 blocks of cervical cancer specimens, and nine blocks of B cell lymphomas were investigated. Both normal and biopsy specimen sized tissues were studied. DNA was extracted using four methods: boiling for 20 minutes in distilled water; boiling for 20 minutes in 5% Chelex-100 resin solution; 3-hour proteinase K digestion; and 3-hour proteinase K digestion, followed by boiling in 5% Chelex-100. Different exons of the p53 gene, human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV 16) sequence, and immunoglobulin heavy chain (IgH) gene rearrangement were amplified from the extracts. RESULTS--The Chelex boiling, proteinase K digestion, and proteinase K digestion-Chelex boiling methods produced DNA suitable for amplification in all of the 45 samples. Boiling in water yielded insufficient template for the PCR in three of the 45 cases (7%), and in six of 42 positive cases (14%) much fainter bands were observed, mostly when the processed material was either biopsy specimen sized or a B cell lymphoma sample. Fragments of the p53 gene were successfully amplified up to 408 base pairs in water boiled extracts, up to 647 in Chelex boiled preparates, and up to 984 in proteinase K digested and proteinase K digested-Chelex boiled samples, although with decreased sensitivity in the last case. All of the templates were reusable after 3 months of storage at -20 degrees C. CONCLUSIONS--Chelex boiling, proteinase K digestion, and proteinase K digestion followed by Chelex boiling produce suitable templates for the PCR from a large variety of paraffin wax embedded tissues. As the simple 20 minute boiling method in 5% Chelex-100 solution requires minimal manipulation and time, it could be useful, especially in the routine processing of large amounts of material.
A new method for identifying Cryptococcus neoformans isolates and their serotypes by the slide agglutination test using five kinds of factor sera, with the aid of nitrate reduction, phenol oxidase, and growth at 37 degrees C tests was evaluated by using 36 reference strains and 75 clinical isolates of C. neoformans. The results showed that the reference strains were identified exactly as they were labeled, and clinical isolates were identified as C. neoformans serotypes A, D, and AD. C. neoformans could be distinguished from other Cryptococcus species that cross-reacted with factor sera by their ability to grow at 37 degrees C. These results indicate that the slide agglutination test combined the use of factor sera for isolates which grow at 37 degrees C is a useful method for identification of C. neoformans and their serotypes and that the nitrate reduction test (negative in 100% of the isolates) and the phenol oxidase test (positive in approximately 95% of the isolates) can be used to confirm that the species is C. neoformans.
The capsular components of the human pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans are transported to the extracellular space and then used for capsule enlargement by distal growth. It is not clear, however, how the glucuronoxylomannan (GXM) fibers are incorporated into the capsule. In the present study, we show that concentration of C. neoformans culture supernatants by ultrafiltration results in the formation of highly viscous films containing pure polysaccharide, providing a novel, nondenaturing, and extremely rapid method to isolate extracellular GXM. The weight-averaged molecular mass of GXM in the film, determined using multiangle laser light scattering, was ninefold smaller than that of GXM purified from culture supernatants by differential precipitation with cetyl trimethyl ammonium bromide (CTAB). Polysaccharides obtained either by ultrafiltration or by CTAB-mediated precipitation showed different reactivities with GXM-specific monoclonal antibodies. Viscosity analysis associated with inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry and measurements of zeta potential in the presence of different ions implied that polysaccharide aggregation was a consequence of the interaction between the carboxyl groups of glucuronic acid and divalent cations. Consistent with this observation, capsule enlargement in living C. neoformans cells was influenced by Ca2+ in the culture medium. These results suggest that capsular assembly in C. neoformans results from divalent cation-mediated self-aggregation of extracellularly accumulated GXM molecules.
Little is known about the global molecular epidemiology of the human pathogenic fungus Cryptococcus neoformans. We studied 51 clinical and environmental (pigeon excreta) isolates from two cities in Brazil (Belo Horizonte and Rio de Janeiro) by analyzing their carbon assimilation patterns, electrophoretic karyotypes, restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs) with the C. neoformans repetitive element-1 (CNRE-1), and URA5 sequences. Results were compared to those previously obtained for isolates from New York City by the same DNA typing methods. Computer-assisted analysis of RFLPs and contour-clamped homogeneous electrophoresis (CHEF) patterns and URA5 sequences was performed to generate dendrograms. Some environmental and clinical isolates were found to be indistinguishable by CHEF, CNRE-1 RFLP, and URA5 sequence analyses. Similarly, some isolates from Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte were indistinguishable by the three DNA typing techniques. Overall, Brazilian isolates appeared to be less heterogeneous by DNA analysis than isolates from other regions. Several Brazilian isolates were highly related to New York City isolates. Phylogenetic analysis of the sequences obtained for the Brazilian isolates and those obtained for New York City isolates was congruent with the dendrogram generated from the CNRE-1 RFLP data. In summary our results indicate (i) that the discriminatory power of the DNA typing method differs for Brazilian and New York City strains, with the order being CNRE-1 RFLP analysis > URA5 sequence analysis > CHEF analysis and CHEF analysis > URA5 sequence analysis > CNRE-1 RFLP analysis, respectively; (ii) that there are differences in local genetic diversity for Brazilian and New York City isolates; (iii) that there is additional evidence linking clinical isolates to those in pigeon excreta; and (iv) that some isolates from Brazil and New York City are closely related, consistent with the global dispersal of certain pathogenic strains.
Cryptococcus neoformans is an important pathogenic fungus that has been classified as a basidiomycete. Little is known of the molecular genetics of this fungal pathogen. To begin such studies, we devised a procedure for extraction of DNA from cryptococci; this method involved the use of the cell wall-active enzyme NovoZym 234. Using cloned rDNA of Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a probe, we identified homologous restriction fragments in a Southern blot of digested C. neoformans DNA. An 8.6-kilobase HindIII fragment that hybridized with the yeast rDNA probe was ligated with the vector pBR322 and cloned into Escherichia coli. When the fragment was used as a probe, it hybridized to the 18S and 25S rRNAs of C. neoformans in Northern (RNA) blots of native and denatured RNA. It bound at high stringency only weakly to the rRNAs of the ascomycete S. cerevisiae. The locations of the genes for 5/5.8S, 18S, and 25S subunits in the cloned fragment were identified with labeled rRNA of these different types.
Various organisms have been characterized by molecular methods, including fungi of the genus Cryptococcus. The purposes of this study were: to determine the discriminatory potential of the RAPD (Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA) primers, the pattern of similarity of the Cryptococcus species, and discuss their useful application in epidemiological studies. We analyzed 10 isolates of each specie/group: C. albidus, C. laurentii complex, C. neoformans var. grubii, all from environmental source, and two ATCC strains, C. neoformans var. grubii ATCC 90112, and C. neoformans var. neoformans ATCC 28957 by RAPD-PCR using the primers CAV1, CAV2, ZAP19, ZAP20, OPB11 and SEQ6. The primers showed a good discriminatory power, revealing important differences between them and between species; the SEQ6 primer discriminated a larger number of isolates of three species. Isolates of C. laurentii showed greater genetic diversity than other species revealed by all six primers. Isolates of C. neoformans were more homogeneous. Only the primer CAV2 showed no amplification of DNA bands for C. albidus. It was concluded that the use of limited number of carefully selected primers allowed the discrimination of different isolates, and some primers (e.g., CAV2 for C. albidus) may not to be applied to some species.
Cryptococcus albidus; Cryptococcus laurentii; RAPD; Molecular Markers
Kobayashi, George S. (Tulane University, New Orleans, La.), and Lorraine Friedman. Characterization of the pyrogenicity of Candida albicans, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and Cryptococcus neoformans. J. Bacteriol. 88:660–666. 1964.—The intravenous injection into rabbits of 109 yeast cells of Candida albicans, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, or Cryptococcus neoformans (both slightly and heavily encapsulated forms) induced a febrile response indistinguishable from that elicited by gram-negative bacterial endotoxin. There was a brisk rise in body temperature which began as early as 30 min after injection, peaked once or twice, and then returned to normal after about 10 hr. With viable C. albicans, the febrile response did not return to normal but remained elevated for several days and terminated at death of the animal. Of three extraction procedures employed in attempts to isolate the endotoxin-like pyrogenically active substances from C. albicans, only one, the phenol extraction method, was successful. Pyrogenic substances were more easily extractable from S. cerevisiae, but extracted cells of both species were still highly pyrogenic. It was concluded that the particulate nature of the yeast cell did not contribute to the induction of fever, for latex particles of a similar size were nonpyrogenic. Viable or heat-killed C. albicans, phenol extract of C. albicans, zymosan, and polystyrene latex particles all failed to induce in rabbits increased dermal reactivity to epinephrine.
On the basis of a comparison of rRNA sequences coding the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) and 5.8S regions of Filobasidiella neoformans, the teleomorph of Cryptococcus neoformans, and members of its most closely related taxa, unique oligonucleotides were designed for the specific amplification of DNA only from C. neoformans. Various combinations of these primers, designated CN4, CN5, and CN6, and the previously described fungal primers ITS1 and ITS2 were tested in PCR for their ability to amplify DNA from 37 strains of C. neoformans and 31 other isolates representing 18 species of yeasts. The combination of primers CN4 and CN5 amplified DNA from both varieties of C. neoformans but from none of the other species tested. Other pairs of primers (namely, CN5-CN6, CN4-ITS1, and CN6-ITS1) amplified DNA only from C. neoformans and from the saprophyte Filobasidiella depauperata, which is the only other member of the genus Filobasidiella. With appropriate controls, these specific oligonucleotides may be used as primers in PCR to identify C. neoformans.
Cryptococcus neoformans var. neoformans presently includes isolates which have been determined by the immunologic reactivity of their capsular polysaccharides to be serotype A and those which have been determined to be serotype D. However, recent analyses of the URA5 sequences and DNA fingerprinting patterns suggest significant genetic differences between the two serotypes. Therefore, we propose to recognize these genotypic distinctions, as well as previously reported phenotypic differences, by restricting C. neoformans var. neoformans to isolates which are serotype D and describing a new variety, C. neoformans var. grubii, for serotype A isolates.
The Cryptococcus neoformans/C. gattii species complex comprises two sibling species that are divided into eight major molecular types, C. neoformans VNI to VNIV and C. gattii VGI to VGIV. These genotypes differ in host range, epidemiology, virulence, antifungal susceptibility and geographic distribution. The currently used phenotypic and molecular identification methods for the species/molecular types are time consuming and expensive. As Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization-Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) offers an effective alternative for the rapid identification of microorganisms, the objective of this study was to examine its potential for the identification of C. neoformans and C. gattii strains at the intra- and inter-species level.
Protein extracts obtained via the formic acid extraction method of 164 C. neoformans/C. gattii isolates, including four inter-species hybrids, were studied.
The obtained mass spectra correctly identified 100% of all studied isolates, grouped each isolate according to the currently recognized species, C. neoformans and C. gattii, and detected potential hybrids. In addition, all isolates were clearly separated according to their major molecular type, generating greater spectral differences among the C. neoformans molecular types than the C. gattii molecular types, most likely reflecting a closer phylogenetic relationship between the latter. The number of colonies used and the incubation length did not affect the results. No spectra were obtained from intact yeast cells. An extended validated spectral library containing spectra of all eight major molecular types was established.
MALDI-TOF MS is a rapid identification tool for the correct recognition of the two currently recognized human pathogenic Cryptococcus species and offers a simple method for the separation of the eight major molecular types and the detection of hybrid strains within this species complex in the clinical laboratory. The obtained mass spectra provide further evidence that the major molecular types warrant variety or even species status.
The number of patients with yeast infection has increased during the last years. Also the variety of species of clinical importance has increased. Correct species identification is often important for efficient therapy, but is currently mostly based on phenotypic features and is sometimes time-consuming and depends largely on the expertise of technicians. Therefore, we evaluated the feasibility of PCR-based amplification of the internally transcribed spacer region 2 (ITS2), followed by fragment size analysis on the ABI Prism 310 for the identification of clinically important yeasts.
A rapid DNA-extraction method, based on simple boiling-freezing was introduced. Of the 26 species tested, 22 could be identified unambiguously by scoring the length of the ITS2-region. No distinction could be made between the species Trichosporon asteroides and T. inkin or between T. mucoides and T. ovoides. The two varieties of Cryptococcus neoformans (var. neoformans and var. gattii) could be differentiated from each other due to a one bp length difference of the ITS2 fragment. The three Cryptococcus laurentii isolates were split into two groups according to their ITS2-fragment lengths, in correspondence with the phylogenetic groups described previously. Since the obtained fragment lengths compare well to those described previously and could be exchanged between two laboratories, an internationally usable library of ITS2 fragment lengths can be constructed.
The existing ITS2 size based library enables identification of most of the clinically important yeast species within 6 hours starting from a single colony and can be easily updated when new species are described. Data can be exchanged between laboratories.
Experimental modulation of capsule size is an important technique for the study of the virulence of the encapsulated pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans. In this paper, we summarize the techniques available for experimental modulation of capsule size in this yeast and describe improved methods to induce capsule size changes. The response of the yeast to the various stimuli is highly dependent on the cryptococcal strain. A high CO2 atmosphere and a low iron concentration have been used classically to increase capsule size. Unfortunately, these stimuli are not reliable for inducing capsular enlargement in all strains. Recently we have identified new and simpler conditions for inducing capsule enlargement that consistently elicited this effect. Specifically, we noted that mammalian serum or diluted Sabouraud broth in MOPS buffer pH 7.3 efficiently induced capsule growth. Media that slowed the growth rate of the yeast correlated with an increase in capsule size. Finally, we summarize the most commonly used media that induce capsule growth in C. neoformans.
Cryptococcus neoformans; Infection; Virulence
Capsule formation plays a significant role in the pathogenicity of Cryptococcus neoformans. To study the molecular basis of capsule synthesis, the capsule-deficient phenotype of a mutant strain was complemented by transformation. A plasmid rescued from the resulting Cap+ transformant complemented a cap59 mutation which was mapped previously by classical recombination analysis. Gene deletion by homologous integration resulted in an acapsular phenotype, indicating that we have identified the CAP59 gene. The CAP59 gene was assigned to chromosome I by Southern blot analysis of contour-clamped homogeneous electric field gel electrophoresis-resolved chromosomes of C. neoformans var. neoformans. Sequence comparison of genomic and cDNA clones indicated the presence of six introns. CAP59 encoded a 1.9-kb transcript and a deduced protein of 458 amino acids. Analysis of the nucleotide sequence revealed little similarity to existing sequences in the data bank. When the capsule-deficient phenotype was complemented, the originally avirulent C. neoformans strain became virulent for mice. In addition, the acapsular strain created by gene deletion of CAP59 lost its virulence. This work demonstrates the molecular basis for capsule-related virulence and that the CAP59 gene is required for capsule formation.
The interaction between human natural killer (NK) cells and yeast cells of Cryptococcus neoformans was investigated because experiments in mice indicated that NK cells inhibited the growth of C. neoformans. Strains of C. neoformans serotype A that differed in both resistance to alveolar macrophages and the size and composition of their capsules were evaluated. Human NK cells, which were isolated from normal peripheral blood, were activated by preincubation with interleukin-2 and alpha interferon to generate lymphokine-activated killer (LAK) cells. Yeast cells of C. neoformans were incubated with effector cells (NK or LAK cells); and inhibition of yeast cell growth was measured at 4, 8, and 24 h by comparing quantitative plate counts with controls consisting of yeasts in the absence of effector cells. The cytolytic activity of effector cells against target cells was confirmed by the release of radiolabel from 51Cr-labeled K-562 tumor cells. Neither NK nor LAK cells inhibited the growth of 13 strains of C. neoformans at effector to target cell ratios of as high as 500:1. Monocytes, which were isolated from the same populations of leukocytes as the NK cells, inhibited the growth of two strains of C. neoformans at effector to target cell ratios of 100:1 (92 and 46% inhibition), 50:1 (87 and 17%), and 1:1 (49 and 0%). NK cells could inhibit the growth of C. neoformans by an antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity mechanism in the presence of rabbit anticryptococcal antiserum at dilutions up to 1:4,000. Purified capsular polysaccharide of C. neoformans had no effect on the viability or tumoricidal activity of NK or LAK cells. These data suggest that human NK and LAK cells are not impaired by C. neoformans, and in the absence of antibody, which is rarely detectable in patients, they afford much less protection against C. neoformans than monocytes do.
Cryptococcus neoformans serotypes A and D are responsible for the overwhelming majority of infections in patients with AIDS. The genetic relationship between the serotypes is poorly understood, but there are significant differences in the epidemiology and clinical presentation of serotype A and D infections. We evaluated the genetic relationship between reference C. neoformans strains belonging to serotypes A and D by analyzing their URA5 sequences and restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs) with the C. neoformans repetitive element 1 (CNRE-1) probe. The results were compared to those previously obtained for isolates from Brazil and New York City by the same typing methods, and dendrograms were generated. Serotype A and D strains produced distinct RFLP patterns consistent with their separation into two major clusters in the dendrogram generated on the basis of RFLP data. Similarly, serotype A and D strains clustered independently on the basis of the nucleotide sequences of their URA5 genes. Pairwise comparisons revealed average numbers of nucleotide differences within serotypes A and D of 3.0 ± 1.7 and 7.2 ± 3.4, respectively (P < 0.0001), and between serotypes A and D of 41.9 ± 2.7. In summary, our results indicate phylogenetic differences between the two serotypes of C. neoformans var. neoformans and suggest that these serotypes could probably be considered different varieties of C. neoformans.
Cryptococcus neoformans is a major fungal pathogen for patients with debilitated immune systems. However, no information is available on the stability of virulence or of phenotypes associated with virulence for C. neoformans laboratory strains. A serendipitous observation in our laboratory that one isolate of C. neoformans ATCC 24067 (strain 52D) became attenuated after continuous in vitro culture prompted us to perform a comparative study of nine strain 24067 isolates obtained from six different research laboratories. Each isolate was characterized by DNA typing, virulence for mice, proteinase production, extracellular protein synthesis, melanin synthesis, carbon assimilation pattern, antifungal drug susceptibility, colony morphology, growth rate, agglutination titers, phagocytosis by murine macrophages, capsule size, and capsular polysaccharide structure. All isolates had similar DNA typing patterns consistent with their assignment to the same strain, although minor chromosome size polymorphisms were observed in the electrophoretic karyotypes of two isolates. Several isolates had major differences in phenotypes that may be associated with virulence, including growth rate, capsule size, proteinase production, and melanization. These findings imply that C. neoformans is able to undergo rapid changes in vitro, probably as a result of adaptation to laboratory conditions, and suggest the need for careful attention to storage and maintenance conditions. In summary, our results indicate that C. neoformans (i) can become attenuated by in vitro culture and (ii) is capable of microevolution in vitro with the emergence of variants exhibiting new genotypic and phenotypic characteristics.
Cryptococcus neoformans is a pathogenic yeast and a major cause of opportunistic infection in AIDS patients. It is commonly found in an acapsular form in the environment, and infection is likely to occur by inhalation. The lung provides a suitable environment for capsule synthesis, and once encapsulated, C. neoformans becomes resistant to phagocytosis. A stable acapsular mutant of the organism is readily ingested by murine macrophages in vitro, indicating entry via constitutively competent receptors. We demonstrate in this report that this process is inhibitable by particles derived from Saccharomyces cerevisiae that are rich in mannan and beta-glucan, as well as more purified forms of these glycans. Furthermore, ingestion of the acapsular form of C. neoformans induces a range of proinflammatory cytokines, including tumor necrosis factor alpha and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor, which, as we have previously shown, enhance ingestion of serum-opsonized encapsulated C. neoformans in vitro. We demonstrate that ingestion of the acapsular form of the organism also enhances ingestion of the pathogenic encapsulated form. This is dependent on the production of tumor necrosis factor alpha and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor by the macrophages, since addition of neutralizing antibodies to both cytokines inhibited the observed increase in ingestion. Together, these data demonstrate that ingestion of acapsular C. neoformans is mediated via mannose and beta-glucan receptors on the macrophage surface and that this process activates macrophages for enhanced phagocytosis of the encapsulated form via production of macrophage-derived cytokines.
Cryptococcus neoformans var. neoformans (74 isolates) and C. neoformans var. gattii (44 isolates) were used to test urease activity after growth on both yeast extract-glucose-peptone agar (YEPG) and on YEPG supplemented with 100 microM EDTA. Every isolate grown on YEPG agar for 48 h at 30 degrees C produced a positive reaction within 1 h in a modified rapid urease assay at 37 degrees C. However, isolates grown on YEPG with 100 microM EDTA showed a distinct pattern which corresponded to their varietal status. All but 1 of 74 C. neoformans var. neoformans isolates (98.7%) produced a positive reaction within 1 to 4 h, while none of 44 C. neoformans var. gattii isolates produced a positive reaction within the same period. The urease inhibition results and the canavanine-glycine-bromthymol blue agar test results showed 100% correlation among isolates of C. neoformans var. gattii and 98.7% correlation among isolates of C. neoformans var. neoformans. Two representative isolates of C. neoformans var. gattii (serotypes B and C) were further tested for urease during a prolonged incubation period in urea broth. These isolates failed to show a positive reaction even after 11 h of incubation. The uptake of EDTA was negligible in the two varieties. Extracts of cells grown on YEPA agar showed a high level of urease activity in both varieties. Extracts of cells grown on the agar with 100 microM EDTA showed a marked reduction (86%) of urease activity in one isolate of C. neoformans var. gattii but showed only a 30% reduction in one isolate of C. neoformans var. neoformans. Based on these results, the differential effect of EDTA on the two varieties of C. neoformans appeared to be due to greater inhibition of urease synthesis in C. neoformans var. gattii.