Inflammatory bowel disease is a condition of acute and chronic inflammation of the gut. An important factor contributing to pathogenesis is a dysregulated mucosal immunity against commensal bacteria and fungi. Host pattern-recognition receptors (PRRs) sense commensals in the gut and are involved in maintaining the balance between controlled responses to pathogens and overwhelming innate immune activation. C-type lectin receptors (CLRs) are PRRs recognizing glycan structures on pathogens and self-antigens. Here we examined the role of the murine CLR specific intracellular adhesion molecule-3 grabbing non-integrin homolog-related 3 (SIGNR3) in the recognition of commensals and its involvement in intestinal immunity. SIGNR3 is the closest murine homolog of the human dendritic cell-specific intercellular adhesion molecule-3-grabbing non-integrin (DC-SIGN) receptor recognizing similar carbohydrate ligands such as terminal fucose or high-mannose glycans. We discovered that SIGNR3 recognizes fungi present in the commensal microbiota. To analyze whether this interaction impacts the intestinal immunity against microbiota, the dextran sulfate sodium-induced colitis model was employed. SIGNR3−/− mice exhibited an increased weight loss associated with more severe colitis symptoms compared to wild-type control mice. The increased inflammation in SIGNR3−/− mice was accompanied by a higher level of TNF-α in colon. Our findings demonstrate for the first time that SIGNR3 recognizes intestinal fungi and has an immune regulatory role in colitis.
SIGNR3; C-type lectin receptor; host innate immunity; colitis; carbohydrate recognition; microbiota; fungi
Dectin-1 is a pattern-recognition receptor recognizing β-(1,3)-glucans found on fungal cell walls. Dectin-1 plays an important role in immunity to fungi by mediating phagocytic clearance of fungal particles and inducing transcription of innate response genes. We show here that the two processes are linked and that Dectin-1 signalling for inflammation is attenuated by phagocytosis. Blocking Dectin-1 ligand-dependent internalization using either actin polymerization or dynamin inhibitors, large non-phagocytosable β-glucan particles or poorly phagocytic cells leads in all cases to enhanced and sustained activation of downstream signalling pathways and culminates in production of high levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines. These findings establish the importance of phagocytosis not only in the clearance of pathogens, but also in the modulation of pattern-recognition receptor signalling and strongly suggest that internalization is the first step to attenuation of Dectin-1-mediated pro-inflammatory responses.
DC; Dectin-1; Phagocytosis; Syk
Mycoparasitic Trichoderma species are applied as biocontrol agents in agriculture to guard plants against fungal diseases. During mycoparasitism, Trichoderma directly interacts with phytopathogenic fungi, preceded by a specific recognition of the host and resulting in its disarming and killing. In various fungal pathogens, including mycoparasites, signalling via heterotrimeric G proteins plays a major role in regulating pathogenicity-related functions. However, the corresponding receptors involved in the recognition of host-derived signals are largely unknown. Functional characterization of Trichoderma atroviride Gpr1 revealed a prominent role of this seven-transmembrane protein of the cAMP-receptor-like family of fungal G-protein-coupled receptors in the antagonistic interaction with the host fungus and governing of mycoparasitism-related processes. Silencing of gpr1 led to an avirulent phenotype accompanied by an inability to attach to host hyphae. Furthermore, gpr1-silenced transformants were unable to respond to the presence of living host fungi with the expression of chitinase- and protease-encoding genes. Addition of exogenous cAMP was able to restore host attachment in gpr1-silenced transformants but could not restore mycoparasitic overgrowth. A search for downstream targets of the signalling pathway(s) involving Gpr1 resulted in the isolation of genes encoding e.g. a member of the cyclin-like superfamily and a small secreted cysteine-rich protein. Although silencing of gpr1 caused defects similar to those of mutants lacking the Tga3 Gα protein, no direct interaction between Gpr1 and Tga3 was observed in a split-ubiquitin two-hybrid assay.
Interleukin-17 (IL-17) producing T helper cells (TH-17) comprise a newly recognized T cell subset with an emerging role in adaptive immunity to a variety of fungi. Whether different airborne fungi trigger a common signaling pathway for TH-17 induction, and whether this ability is related to the inherent pathogenic behavior of each fungus is currently unknown. Here we show that, as opposed to primary pathogenic fungi (Histoplasma capsulatum), opportunistic fungal pathogens (Aspergillus and Rhizopus) trigger a common innate sensing pathway in human dendritic cells (DCs) that results in robust production of IL-23 and drives TH-17 responses. This response requires activation of dectin-1 by the fungal cell wall polysaccharide b-glucan that is selectively exposed during the invasive growth of opportunistic fungi. Notably, unmasking of b-glucan in the cell wall of a mutant of Histoplasma not only abrogates the pathogenicity of this fungus, but also triggers the induction of IL-23 producing DCs. Thus, b-glucan exposure in the fungal cell wall is essential for the induction of IL-23/TH-17 axis and may represent a key factor that regulates protective immunity to opportunistic but not pathogenic fungi.
The number of life-threatening fungal infections has risen in immunocompromised patients, and identification of the rules that govern an appropriate immune response is essential to develop better diagnostics and targeted therapeutics. The outer cell wall component on pathogenic fungi consists of β-1,3-glucan, and Dectin-1, a pattern recognition receptor present on the cell surface of innate immune cells, binds specifically to this carbohydrate. A barrier in understanding the exact immunological response to pathogen-derived carbohydrate epitopes is the presence of multiple types of carbohydrate moieties on fungal cell walls. To dissect the immunological mechanisms used to recognize pathogens, a system of “fungal like particles” was developed that consisted of polystyrene beads, which mimicked the three dimensional shape of the fungus, coated covalently with purified β-1,3-glucan derived from Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The morphology of the β-1,3-glucan layer was examined by immunofluorescence, flow cytometery, and immuno-transmission electron microscopy. The covalent linkages of the β-1,3-glucan to the polystyrene surface were stable after subjecting the beads to detergents. By pre-treating β-1,3-glucan beads with laminarinase, a specific β-1,3-gluconase, the reactivity of the anti-β-1,3-glucan antibody was abrogated in comparison to treatment with proteinase K indicating that the coating of these beads was predominantly β-1,3-glucan. TNF-α was also measured by stimulating bone-marrow derived macrophages with the β-1,3-glucan beads, and showed a dose dependent response compared to soluble β-glucan, insoluble β-1,3-glucan, uncoated beads, and soluble β-1,3-glucan mixed with uncoated beads. Finally, β-1,3-glucan beads were incubated with GFP-Dectin-1 expressing macrophages and imaged using confocal microscopy. β-1,3-beads were taken up within minutes and retained Dectin-1 recruitment to the phagosome as compared to uncoated beads. This data describes a unique fungal-like particle system that will permit immunologists to probe the critical steps in early recognition of pathogen-derived fungal carbohydrate antigens by innate immune cells.
Cell type specification is a fundamental process that all cells must carry out to ensure appropriate behaviors in response to environmental stimuli. In fungi, cell identity is critical for defining “sexes” known as mating types and is controlled by components of mating type (MAT) loci. MAT–encoded genes function to define sexes via two distinct paradigms: 1) by controlling transcription of components common to both sexes, or 2) by expressing specially encoded factors (pheromones and their receptors) that differ between mating types. The human fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans has two mating types (a and α) that are specified by an extremely unusual MAT locus. The complex architecture of this locus makes it impossible to predict which paradigm governs mating type. To identify the mechanism by which the C. neoformans sexes are determined, we created strains in which the pheromone and pheromone receptor from one mating type (a) replaced the pheromone and pheromone receptor of the other (α). We discovered that these “αa” cells effectively adopt a new mating type (that of a cells); they sense and respond to α factor, they elicit a mating response from α cells, and they fuse with α cells. In addition, αa cells lose the α cell type-specific response to pheromone and do not form germ tubes, instead remaining spherical like a cells. Finally, we discovered that exogenous expression of the diploid/dikaryon-specific transcription factor Sxi2a could then promote complete sexual development in crosses between α and αa strains. These data reveal that cell identity in C. neoformans is controlled fully by three kinds of MAT–encoded proteins: pheromones, pheromone receptors, and homeodomain proteins. Our findings establish the mechanisms for maintenance of distinct cell types and subsequent developmental behaviors in this unusual human fungal pathogen.
All organisms that undergo sexual reproduction carry out specific mechanisms to establish different sexes. In fungi, sexual identity is typically determined by components housed within specialized regions of chromosomes known as mating-type (MAT) loci. MAT–encoded genes function to define sexes via two distinct paradigms: 1) by controlling transcription of components common to both sexes, or 2) by expressing specially encoded factors (pheromones and their receptors) that differ between mating types. The two mating types of Cryptococcus neoformans (a and α) are specified by an extremely unusual MAT locus. The unique architecture of this locus makes it impossible to predict which paradigm governs mating type. To identify the mechanism by which the C. neoformans sexes are determined, we created an α strain where the pheromones and pheromone receptor were replaced with the analogous genes from an a strain. We discovered that the resulting strain (αa) now behaves as if it is an a. It senses and responds to α cells, mates with α cells, and no longer exhibits other α-specific behaviors. Our data show that replacement of two and only two genes completely alters the sexual identity of α cells, establishing pheromones and their receptors as the determinants of sexual identity in C. neoformans.
During the course of evolution, animals encountered the harmful effects of fungi, which are strong pathogens. Therefore, they have developed powerful mechanisms to protect themselves against these fungal invaders. β-Glucans are glucose polymers of a linear β(1,3)-glucan backbone with β(1,6)-linked side chains. The immunostimulatory and antitumor activities of β-glucans have been reported; however, their mechanisms have only begun to be elucidated. Fungal and particulate β-glucans, despite their large size, can be taken up by the M cells of Peyer's patches, and interact with macrophages or dendritic cells (DCs) and activate systemic immune responses to overcome the fungal infection. The sampled β-glucans function as pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) and are recognized by pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) on innate immune cells. Dectin-1 receptor systems have been incorporated as the PRRs of β-glucans in the innate immune cells of higher animal systems, which function on the front line against fungal infection, and have been exploited in cancer treatments to enhance systemic immune function. Dectin-1 on macrophages and DCs performs dual functions: internalization of β-glucan-containing particles and transmittance of its signals into the nucleus. This review will depict in detail how the physicochemical nature of β-glucan contributes to its immunostimulating effect in hosts and the potential uses of β-glucan by elucidating the dectin-1 signal transduction pathway. The elucidation of β-glucan and its signaling pathway will undoubtedly open a new research area on its potential therapeutic applications, including as immunostimulants for antifungal and anti-cancer regimens.
β-Glucan; Triple helix; Dectin-1; Toll-like receptor (TLR); Peyer's patch; Signal transduction
► Understanding the complexity of host–fungus interactions during commensalism. ► Genes mediating host colonization or fitness can evolve into infection-associated traits. ► Using bioinformatics to unravel functional genomics in dual-genome datasets. ► Modeling both fungal and host immune responses using network analysis tools. ► Databases and web-based resources for investigating host–pathogen interactions.
Modeling interactions between fungi and their hosts at the systems level requires a molecular understanding both of how the host orchestrates immune surveillance and tolerance, and how this activation, in turn, affects fungal adaptation and survival. The transition from the commensal to pathogenic state, and the co-evolution of fungal strains within their hosts, necessitates the molecular dissection of fungal traits responsible for these interactions. There has been a dramatic increase in publically available genome-wide resources addressing fungal pathophysiology and host–fungal immunology. The integration of these existing data and emerging large-scale technologies addressing host–pathogen interactions requires novel tools to connect genome-wide data sets and theoretical approaches with experimental validation so as to identify inherent and emerging properties of host–pathogen relationships and to obtain a holistic view of infectious processes. If successful, a better understanding of the immune response in health and microbial diseases will eventually emerge and pave the way for improved therapies.
Fungal infections and diseases predominantly affect patients with deregulated immunity. Compelling experimental and clinical evidence indicate that severe fungal diseases belong to the spectrum of fungus-related inflammatory diseases. Some degree of inflammation is required for protection during the transitional response occurring temporally between the rapid innate and slower adaptive response. However, progressive inflammation worsens disease and ultimately prevents pathogen eradication. The challenge now is to elucidate cellular and molecular pathways distinguishing protective vs. pathogenic inflammation to fungi. In addition to fungal ligands of pattern recognition receptors (pathogen-associated molecular patterns, PAMPs), several host-encoded proteins, the damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs), are released during tissue injury and activate innate recognition receptors. DAMPs have been shown to regulate inflammation in fungal diseases. The DAMP/receptor for advanced glycation end-products axis integrated with the PAMP/Toll-like receptors axis in the generation of the inflammatory response in experimental and clinical fungal pneumonia. These emerging themes better accommodate fungal pathogenesis in the face of high-level inflammation seen in several clinical settings and point to DAMP targeting as a novel immunomodulatory strategy in fungal diseases.
DAMPs; PAMPs; fungal diseases; inflammation; immunoregulation
The arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbiosis consists of a mutualistic relationship between soil fungi and roots of most plant species. This association provides the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus with sugars while the fungus improves the uptake of water and mineral nutrients in the host plant. Then, the establishment of the arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbiosis requires the fine tuning of host gene expression for recognition and accommodation of the fungal symbiont. In plants, calcium plays a key role as second messenger during developmental processes and responses to environmental stimuli. Even though calcium transients are known to occur in host cells during the AM symbiosis, the decoding of the calcium signal and the molecular events downstream are only poorly understood.
The expression of seventeen Calcium-dependent Protein Kinase (CPK) genes representative of the four distinct phylogenetic groups of rice CPKs was monitored during the presymbiotic phase of the AM symbiosis. Among them, OsCPK18 and OsCPK4, were found to be transcriptionally activated in response to inoculation with the AM fungus Glomus intraradices. OsCPK18 and OsCPK4 gene expression was also up-regulated by fungal-produced diffusible molecules. Laser microdissection revealed expression of OsCPK18 in cortical cells, and not in epidermal cells of G. intraradices-inoculated rice roots, suggesting a preferential role of this gene in the root cortex. Moreover, a plasma membrane localization of OsCPK18 was observed by transient expression assays of green fluorescent protein-tagged OsCPK18 in onion epidermal cells. We also show that the myristoylation site of the OsCPK18 N-terminus is required for plasma membrane targeting.
The rapid activation of OsCPK18 expression in response to AM inoculation, its expression being also induced by fungal-secreted signals, together with the observed plasma membrane localization of OsCPK18, points to a role for OsCPK18 in perception of the AM fungus. The OsCPK18 gene might be considered as a marker for the presymbiotic phase of the symbiotic process. These findings provide a better understanding of the signaling mechanisms operating during the AM symbiosis and will greatly facilitate their molecular dissection.
The β-glucan receptor Dectin-1 is a member of the C-type lectin family and functions as an innate pattern recognition receptor in antifungal immunity. In both mouse and man, Dectin-1 has been found to play an essential role in controlling infections with Candida albicans, a normally commensal fungus in man which can cause superficial mucocutaneous infections as well as life-threatening invasive diseases. Here, using in vivo models of infection, we show that the requirement for Dectin-1 in the control of systemic Candida albicans infections is fungal strain-specific; a phenotype that only becomes apparent during infection and cannot be recapitulated in vitro. Transcript analysis revealed that this differential requirement for Dectin-1 is due to variable adaptation of C. albicans strains in vivo, and that this results in substantial differences in the composition and nature of their cell walls. In particular, we established that differences in the levels of cell-wall chitin influence the role of Dectin-1, and that these effects can be modulated by antifungal drug treatment. Our results therefore provide substantial new insights into the interaction between C. albicans and the immune system and have significant implications for our understanding of susceptibility and treatment of human infections with this pathogen.
Dectin-1 is a pattern recognition receptor recognising the fungal cell-wall component, β-glucan, and plays an essential role in controlling C. albicans infections in both mouse and man. Candida albicans is part of the normal human microflora, yet is capable of causing superficial mucosal infections as well as life-threatening invasive diseases, particularly in patients whose immune function is compromised. Here we found that the contribution of Dectin-1 is limited to specific strains of C. albicans; effects which are due to the differential adaptation of these pathogens during infection. Importantly, C. albicans strains showed variations in both the composition and nature of their cell walls, and it was these differences which influenced the role of Dectin-1. Crucially, we found that we could alter the fungal cell wall, and subsequent interactions with the host, using antifungal drugs. These findings have substantial implications for our understanding of the factors contributing to human susceptibility to infections with C. albicans, but also treatment strategies.
The ability of the innate immune system to quickly recognize and respond to an invading pathogen is essential for controlling the infection. For this purpose, cells of the immune system express receptors which recognize evolutionarily conserved structures expressed by various pathogens but absent from host cells. In this review we focus on the non-classical C-type lectin receptors including Dectin-1 whose role has been extensively characterized in the recognition and response to fungal pathogens. Dectin-1 is a type II transmembrane protein which binds β-1,3 and β-1,6 glucans. It is expressed on most cells of the innate immune system and has been implicated in phagocytosis as well as killing of fungi by macrophages, neutrophils and dendritic cells. The Dectin-1 cytoplasmic tail contains an immunoreceptor tyrosine based activation motif (ITAM) that signals in part through the spleen tyrosine kinase and in collaboration with Toll-like receptors. Although the main research focus has been on Dectin-1’s role as a fungal and yeast pathogen recognition receptor, more recent studies suggest that Dectin-1 may have a broader function in pathogen recognition including a role in directing a macrophage response to mycobacterial infections.
Pattern recognition receptors; Dectin-1; signaling; mycobacteria; fungi; glucans; C-type lectin
Innate immune cells, such as macrophages, are highly adapted to rapidly recognize infections by distinct pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. This recognition is mediated by pattern recognition receptors (PRRs), which are found in host cell surface membranes and the host cell cytoplasm. PRRs include protein families such as the toll-like receptors, nod-like receptors, RIG-I-like receptors, and sensors of cytosolic DNA. The activation of these PRRs by pathogen-associated molecular patterns leads to transcriptional responses and specific forms of cell death. These processes effectively contribute to host resistance to infection either via cell-autonomous processes that lead to the intracellular restriction of microbial replication and/or by activating pathogen-specific adaptive immune responses. Legionella pneumophila, the causative agent of Legionnaires’ disease, is a Gram-negative bacterium that triggers responses by multiple PRRs. Here, we review a set of studies that have contributed to our specific understanding of the molecular mechanisms by which innate immune cells recognize and respond to L. pneumophila and the importance of these processes to the outcome of infection.
Legionella pneumophila; innate immunity; pattern recognition receptors; nod-like receptors
Innate immune cells detect pathogens via pattern recognition receptors (PRRs), which signal for initiation of immune responses to infection. Studies with Dectin-1, a PRR for fungi, have defined a novel innate signaling pathway involving Syk kinase and the adaptor CARD9, which is critical for inducing Th17 responses to fungal infection. We show that another C-type lectin, Dectin-2, also signals via Syk and CARD9, and contributes to dendritic cell (DC) activation by fungal particles. Unlike Dectin-1, Dectin-2 couples to Syk indirectly, through association with the FcRγ chain. In a model of Candida albicans infection, blockade of Dectin-2 did not affect innate immune resistance but abrogated Candida-specific T cell production of IL-17 and, in combination with the absence of Dectin-1, decreased Th1 responses to the organism. Thus, Dectin-2 constitutes a major fungal PRR that can couple to the Syk–CARD9 innate signaling pathway to activate DCs and regulate adaptive immune responses to fungal infection.
The fungus Candida albicans behaves as a commensal as well as a true pathogen of areas highly enriched in dendritic cells, such as skin and mucosal surfaces. The ability of the fungus to reversibly switch between unicellular yeast to filamentous forms is thought to be important for virulence. However, whether it is the yeast or the hyphal form that is responsible for pathogenicity is still a matter of debate. Here we show the interaction, and consequences, of different forms of C. albicans with dendritic cells. Immature myeloid dendritic cells rapidly and efficiently phagocytosed both yeasts and hyphae of the fungus. Phagocytosis occurred through different phagocytic morphologies and receptors, resulting in phagosome formation. However, hyphae escaped the phagosome and were found lying free in the cytoplasm of the cells. In vitro, ingestion of yeasts activated dendritic cells for interleukin (IL)-12 production and priming of T helper type 1 (Th1) cells, whereas ingestion of hyphae inhibited IL-12 and Th1 priming, and induced IL-4 production. In vivo, generation of antifungal protective immunity was induced upon injection of dendritic cells ex vivo pulsed with Candida yeasts but not hyphae. The immunization capacity of yeast-pulsed dendritic cells was lost in the absence of IL-12, whereas that of hypha-pulsed dendritic cells was gained in the absence of IL-4. These results indicate that dendritic cells fulfill the requirement of a cell uniquely capable of sensing the two forms of C. albicans in terms of type of immune responses elicited. By the discriminative production of IL-12 and IL-4 in response to the nonvirulent and virulent forms of the fungus, dendritic cells appear to meet the challenge of Th priming and education in C. albicans saprophytism and infections.
Candida albicans; yeast; hyphae; dendritic cells; cytokines
Although fungi have always been with us as commensals and pathogens, fungal infections have been increasing in frequency over the past few decades. There is a growing body of literature describing the involvement of carbohydrate groups in various aspects of fungal disease. Carbohydrates comprising the cell wall or capsule, or as a component of glycoproteins, are the fungal cell surface entities most likely to be exposed to the surrounding environment. Thus, the fungus-host interaction is likely to involve carbohydrates before DNA, RNA, or even protein. The interaction between fungal and host cells is also complex, and early studies using whole cells or crude cell fractions often produced seemingly conflicting results. What was needed, and what has been developing, is the ability to identify specific glycan structures and determine how they interact with immune system components. Carbohydrate analysis is complicated by the complexity of glycan structures and by the challenges of separating and detecting carbohydrates experimentally. Advances in carbohydrate chemistry have enabled us to move from the foundation of composition analysis to more rapid characterization of specific structures. This, in turn, will lead to a greater understanding of how fungi coexist with their hosts as commensals or exist in conflict as pathogens.
Innate immunity to Candida albicans depends upon the recognition of molecular patterns on the fungal cell wall. However, the masking of major components such as β-glucan seems to be a mechanism that fungi have evolved to avoid immune cell recognition through the dectin-1 receptor. Although the role of C. albicans mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways as virulence determinants has been established previously with animal models, the mechanism involved in this behavior is largely unknown. In this study we demonstrate that a disruption of the C. albicans extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)-like 1 (CEK1)-mediated MAPK pathway causes enhanced cell wall β-glucan exposure, triggering immune responses more efficiently than the wild type, as measured by dectin-1-mediated specific binding and human dendritic cell (hDC)- and macrophage-mediated phagocytosis, killing, and activation of intracellular signaling pathways. At the molecular level, the disruption of CEK1 resulted in altered spleen tyrosine kinase (Syk), Raf-1, and ERK1/2 activations together with IκB degradation on hDCs and increased dectin-1-dependent activator protein 1 (AP-1) activation on transfected cells. In addition, concurring with these altered pathways, we detected increased reactive oxygen species production and cytokine secretion. In conclusion, the CEK1-mediated MAPK pathway is involved in β-glucan exposure in a fungal pathogen, hence influencing dectin-1-dependent immune cell recognition, thus establishing this fungal intracellular signaling route as a promising novel therapeutic target.
Mycoparasitic Trichoderma spp. act as potent biocontrol agents against a number of plant pathogenic fungi, whereupon the mycoparasitic attack includes host recognition followed by infection structure formation and secretion of lytic enzymes and antifungal metabolites leading to the host's death. Host-derived signals are suggested to be recognized by receptors located on the mycoparasite's cell surface eliciting an internal signal transduction cascade which results in the transcription of mycoparasitism-relevant genes.
Heterotrimeric G proteins of fungi transmit signals originating from G-protein-coupled receptors mainly to the cAMP and the MAP kinase pathways resulting in regulation of downstream effectors. Components of the G-protein signaling machinery such as Gα subunits and G-protein-coupled receptors were recently shown to play crucial roles in Trichoderma mycoparasitism as they govern processes such as the production of extracellular cell wall lytic enzymes, the secretion of antifungal metabolites, and the formation of infection structures.
Mucosal surfaces are in continuous contact with microbes. Toll-like receptors (TLRs) mediate recognition of microbial molecules to eliminate pathogens. In contrast, we demonstrate here that the prominent gut commensal, Bacteroides fragilis, activates the TLR pathway on T lymphocytes to establish host-microbial symbiosis. TLR2 deletion on CD4+ T cells results in anti-microbial immune responses that reduce B. fragilis colonization of a unique mucosal niche during homeostasis. A symbiosis factor (PSA) of B. fragilis activates TLR2 directly on Foxp3+ regulatory T cells through a novel process to engender mucosal tolerance. Remarkably, B. fragilis lacking PSA is unable to restrain host immune responses and is defective in niche-specific mucosal colonization. Therefore, unlike pathogens whose TLR ligands trigger inflammation, some commensal bacteria exploit the TLR pathway to actively suppress immune reactions. We propose that the immunologic distinction between pathogens and the microbiota is mediated not solely by host mechanisms, but also through specialized molecules evolved by symbiotic bacteria that enable commensal colonization.
The mannose receptor (MR) is an endocytic type I membrane molecule with a broad ligand specificity that is involved in both hemostasis and pathogen recognition. Membrane-anchored MR is cleaved by a metalloproteinase into functional soluble MR (sMR) composed of the extracellular domains of intact MR. Although sMR production was initially considered a constitutive process, enhanced MR shedding has been observed in response to the fungal pathogen Pneumocystis carinii. In this work, we have investigated the mechanism mediating enhanced MR shedding in response to fungi. We show that other fungal species, including Candida albicans and Aspergillus fumigatus, together with zymosan, a preparation of the cell wall of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, mimic the effect of P. carinii on sMR production and that this effect takes place mainly through β-glucan recognition. Additionally, we demonstrate that MR cleavage in response to C. albicans and bioactive particulate β-glucan requires expression of dectin-1. Our data, obtained using specific inhibitors, are consistent with the canonical Syk-mediated pathway triggered by dectin-1 being mainly responsible for inducing MR shedding, with Raf-1 being partially involved. As in the case of steady-state conditions, MR shedding in response to C. albicans and β-glucan particles requires metalloprotease activity. The induction of MR shedding by dectin-1 has clear implications for the role of MR in fungal recognition, as sMR was previously shown to retain the ability to bind fungal pathogens and can interact with numerous host molecules, including lysosomal hydrolases. Thus, MR cleavage could also impact on the magnitude of inflammation during fungal infection.
ADAM; ADAMTS; Fungi; Inflammation; Lectin; Macrophage; Metalloprotease; Mouse; Shedding
Chronic immune activation despite long-term therapy poses an obstacle to immune recovery in HIV infection. The role of antigen presenting cells (APCs) in chronic immune activation during HIV infection remains to be fully determined. APCs, the frontline of immune defense against pathogens, are capable of distinguishing between pathogens and non-pathogenic, commensal bacteria. We hypothesized that HIV infection induces dysfunction in APC immune recognition and response to some commensal bacteria and that this may promote chronic immune activation. Therefore we examined APC inflammatory cytokine responses to commensal lactobacilli. We found that APCs from HIV-infected patients produced an enhanced inflammatory response to Lactobacillus plantarum WCFS1 as compared to APCs from healthy, HIV-negative controls. Increased APC expression of TLR2 and CD36, signaling through p38-MAPK, and decreased expression of MAP kinase phosphatase-1 (MKP-1) in HIV infection was associated with this heightened immune response. Our findings suggest that chronic HIV infection enhances the responsiveness of APCs to commensal lactobacilli, a mechanism that may partly contribute to chronic immune activation.
The innate recognition of fungi by leukocytes is mediated by pattern recognition receptors (PRR), such as Dectin-1, and is thought to occur at the cell surface triggering intracellular signalling cascades which lead to the induction of protective host responses. In the lung, this recognition is aided by surfactant which also serves to maintain the balance between inflammation and pulmonary function, although the underlying mechanisms are unknown. Here we have explored pulmonary innate recognition of a variety of fungal particles, including zymosan, Candida albicans and Aspergillus fumigatus, and demonstrate that opsonisation with surfactant components can limit inflammation by reducing host-cell fungal interactions. However, we found that this opsonisation does not contribute directly to innate fungal recognition and that this process is mediated through non-opsonic PRRs, including Dectin-1. Moreover, we found that pulmonary inflammatory responses to resting Aspergillus conidia were initiated by these PRRs in acidified phagolysosomes, following the uptake of fungal particles by leukocytes. Our data therefore provides crucial new insights into the mechanisms by which surfactant can maintain pulmonary function in the face of microbial challenge, and defines the phagolysosome as a novel intracellular compartment involved in the innate sensing of extracellular pathogens in the lung.
Oropharyngeal candidiasis (OPC, thrush) is an opportunistic infection caused by the commensal fungus Candida albicans. An understanding of immunity to Candida has recently begun to unfold with the identification of fungal pattern-recognition receptors such as C-type lectin receptors, which trigger protective T-helper (Th)17 responses in the mucosa. Hyper-IgE syndrome (HIES/Job’s syndrome) is a rare congenital immunodeficiency characterized by dominant-negative mutations in signal transducer and activator of transcription 3, which is downstream of the Th17-inductive cytokines interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-23, and hence patients with HIES exhibit dramatic Th17 deficits. HIES patients develop oral and mucocutaneous candidiasis, supporting a protective role for Th17 cells in immunity to OPC. However, the Th17-dependent mechanisms of antifungal immunity in OPC are still poorly defined. An often unappreciated aspect of oral immunity is saliva, which is rich in antimicrobial proteins (AMPs) and exerts direct antifungal activity. In this study, we show that HIES patients show significant impairment in salivary AMPs, including β-defensin 2 and Histatins. This tightly correlates with reduced candidacidal activity of saliva and concomitantly elevated colonization with Candida. Moreover, IL-17 induces histatins in cultured salivary gland cells. This is the first demonstration that HIES is associated with defective salivary activity, and provides a mechanism for the severe susceptibility of these patients to OPC.
Self/nonself discrimination is an essential feature for pathogen recognition and graft rejection and is a ubiquitous phenomenon in many organisms. Filamentous fungi, such as Neurospora crassa, provide a model for analyses of population genetics/evolution of self/nonself recognition loci due to their haploid nature, small genomes and excellent genetic/genomic resources. In N. crassa, nonself discrimination during vegetative growth is determined by 11 heterokaryon incompatibility (het) loci. Cell fusion between strains that differ in allelic specificity at any of these het loci triggers a rapid programmed cell death response.
In this study, we evaluated the evolution, population genetics and selective mechanisms operating at a nonself recognition complex consisting of two closely linked loci, het-c (NCU03493) and pin-c (NCU03494). The genomic position of pin-c next to het-c is unique to Neurospora/Sordaria species, and originated by gene duplication after divergence from other species within the Sordariaceae. The het-c pin-c alleles in N. crassa are in severe linkage disequilibrium and consist of three haplotypes, het-c1/pin-c1, het-c2/pin-c2 and het-c3/pin-c3, which are equally frequent in population samples and exhibit trans-species polymorphisms. The absence of recombinant haplotypes is correlated with divergence of the het-c/pin-c intergenic sequence. Tests for positive and balancing selection at het-c and pin-c support the conclusion that both of these loci are under non-neutral balancing selection; other regions of both genes appear to be under positive selection. Our data show that the het-c2/pin-c2 haplotype emerged by a recombination event between the het-c1/pin-c1 and het-c3/pin-c3 approximately 3–12 million years ago.
These results support models by which loci that confer nonself discrimination form by the association of polymorphic genes with genes containing HET domains. Distinct allele classes can emerge by recombination and positive selection and are subsequently maintained by balancing selection and divergence of intergenic sequence resulting in recombination blocks between haplotypes.
Our understanding of immunity to fungal pathogens has advanced considerably in recent years. Particularly significant have been the parallel discoveries in the C-type lectin receptor family and the Th effector arms of immunity, especially Th17 cells and their signature cytokine IL-17. Many of these studies have focused on the most common human fungal pathogen Candida albicans, which is typically a commensal microbe in healthy individuals but causes various disease manifestations in immunocompromised hosts, ranging from mild mucosal infections to lethal disseminated disease. Here, we discuss emerging fundamental discoveries with C. albicans that have informed our overall molecular understanding of fungal immunity. In particular, we focus on the importance of pattern recognition receptor-mediated fungal recognition and subsequent IL-17 responses in host defense against mucosal candidiasis. In light of these recent advances, we also discuss the implications for anti-cytokine biologic therapy and vaccine development.