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1.  Antimicrobial photodynamic therapy: an effective alternative approach to control fungal infections 
Skin mycoses are caused mainly by dermatophytes, which are fungal species that primarily infect areas rich in keratin such as hair, nails, and skin. Significantly, there are increasing rates of antimicrobial resistance among dermatophytes, especially for Trichophyton rubrum, the most frequent etiologic agent worldwide. Hence, investigators have been developing new therapeutic approaches, including photodynamic treatment. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) utilizes a photosensitive substance activated by a light source of a specific wavelength. The photoactivation induces cascades of photochemicals and photobiological events that cause irreversible changes in the exposed cells. Although photodynamic approaches are well established experimentally for the treatment of certain cutaneous infections, there is limited information about its mechanism of action for specific pathogens as well as the risks to healthy tissues. In this work, we have conducted a comprehensive review of the current knowledge of PDT as it specifically applies to fungal diseases. The data to date suggests that photodynamic treatment approaches hold great promise for combating certain fungal pathogens, particularly dermatophytes.
PMCID: PMC4358220  PMID: 25821448
photodynamic inhibition; fungal cells; treatment; photosensitizer; light source; photochemicals and photobiological events
2.  Vaccines and immunotherapy against fungi: the new frontier 
PMCID: PMC3554959  PMID: 23355835
3.  Antibody Therapy for Histoplasmosis 
The endemic human pathogenic fungus Histoplasma capsulatum is a major fungal pathogen with a broad variety of clinical presentations, ranging from mild, focal pulmonary disease to life-threatening systemic infections. Although azoles, such as itraconazole and voriconazole, and amphotericin B have significant activity against H. capsulatum, about 1 in 10 patients hospitalized due to histoplasmosis die. Hence, new approaches for managing disease are being sought. Over the past 10 years, studies have demonstrated that monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) can modify the pathogenesis of histoplasmosis. Disease has been shown to be impacted by mAbs targeting either fungal cell surface proteins or host co-stimulatory molecules. This review will detail our current knowledge regarding the impact of antibody therapy on histoplasmosis.
PMCID: PMC3270318  PMID: 22347215
Histoplasma capsulatum; histoplasmosis; antibody; histone 2B; heat shock protein 60; M antigen; co-stimulation
4.  Radioimmunotherapy of Fungal Diseases: The Therapeutic Potential of Cytocidal Radiation Delivered by Antibody Targeting Fungal Cell Surface Antigens 
Radioimmunotherapy is the targeted delivery of cytocidal radiation to cells via specific antibody. Although mature for the treatment of cancer, RIT of infectious diseases is in pre-clinical development. However, as there is an obvious and urgent need for novel approaches to treat infectious diseases, RIT can provide us with a powerful approach to combat serious diseases, including invasive fungal infections. For example, RIT has proven more effective than standard amphotericin B for the treatment of experimental cryptococcosis. This review will discuss the concepts of RIT, its applications for infectious diseases, and the strides made to date to bring RIT of infectious diseases to fruition. Finally, we will discuss the potential of PAN-FUNGAL RIT, the targeting of conserved fungal cell surface antigens by RIT, as a treatment modality for fungi prior to the formal microbiological identification of the specific pathogen. In sum, RIT provides a mechanism for the targeted killing of drug susceptible or resistant fungi irrespective of the host immune status and may dramatically reduce the length of therapy currently required for many invasive fungal diseases.
PMCID: PMC3257868  PMID: 22275913
Histoplasma capsulatum; Cryptococcus neoformans; Candida albicans; antibody; heat shock protein 60; beta-glucan; melanin
5.  Surface Architecture of Histoplasma Capsulatum 
The dimorphic fungal pathogen Histoplasma capsulatum is the most frequent cause of clinically significant fungal pneumonia in humans. H. capsulatum virulence is achieved, in part, through diverse and dynamic alterations to the fungal cell surface. Surface components associated with H. capsulatum pathogenicity include carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and melanins. Here, we describe the various structures comprising the cell surface of H. capsulatum that have been associated with virulence and discuss their involvement in the pathobiology of disease.
PMCID: PMC3220077  PMID: 22121356
Histoplasma capsulatum; surface; cell wall; architecture; proteins; carbohydrates
6.  The effect of methamphetamine on an animal model of erectile function 
Andrology  2014;2(4):531-536.
In the U.S. methamphetamine is considered a first-line treatment for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. It is also a common drug of abuse. Reports in patients and abusers suggest its use results in impotence. The efficacy of phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors (PDE5i) to restore erectile function in these patient groups also has not been determined. In these studies we determined if the rat is a suitable animal model for the physiological effects of methamphetamine on erectile function, and if a PDE5i (tadalafil) has an effect on erectile function following methamphetamine treatment.
In acute phase studies, erectile function was measured in male Sprague-Dawley rats, before and after administration of 10 mg/kg methamphetamine i.p. Chronically treated animals received escalating doses of methamphetamine (2.5 mg/kg (1st week), 5 mg/kg (2nd week), and 10 mg/kg (3rd week)) i.p. daily for three weeks and erectile function compared to untreated controls. The effect of co-administration of tadalafil was also investigated in rats acutely and chronically treated with methamphetamine. Erectile function was determined by measuring the intracorporal pressure/blood pressure ratio (ICP/BP) following cavernous nerve stimulation.
In both acute and chronic phase studies we observed a significant increase in the rates of spontaneous erections after methamphetamine administration. In addition, following stimulation of the cavernous nerve at 4 and 6mA, there was a significant decrease in the ICP/BP ratio (approximately 50%), indicative of impaired erectile function. Tadalafil treatment reversed this effect. In chronically treated animals the ICP/BP ratio following 4 and 6mA stimulation decreased by approximately 50% compared to untreated animals and erectile dysfunction was also reversed by tadalafil.
Overall our data suggests that the rat is a suitable animal model to study the physiological effect of methamphetamine on erectile function. Our work also provides a rationale for treating patients that report erectile dysfunction associated with therapeutics containing methamphetamine or amphetamine with PDE5i.
PMCID: PMC4151273  PMID: 24706617
7.  Secreted Candida parapsilosis lipase modulates the immune response of primary human macrophages 
Virulence  2014;5(4):555-562.
Candida parapsilosis is an important opportunistic pathogen with increasing prevalence. Extracellular lipases have been shown to play an important role in the virulence of pathogenic Candida species. However, studying the role of secreted lipase in C. albicans is challenging due to the lack of a mutant strain deficient in all 10 lipase genes. In contrast, we have previously constructed a lipase mutant C. parapsilosis strain lacking both CpLIP1 and CpLIP2, and shown that it has significantly decreased virulence in various infection models, and is killed more efficiently by mouse macrophages. In the present study, we compared the response of human peripheral blood monocyte-derived macrophages to a wild type (wt) as well as a lipase-deficient (lip−/−) C. parapsilosis strain that has been previously established in our lab. Although macrophages phagocytosed both strains with similar efficiency, lipase mutants were killed more efficiently according to fluorescent microscopic analysis. The more efficient killing of lip−/− cells was confirmed by CFU-determinations. Phagocytosis of wt and lip−/−C. parapsilosis was also examined by flow cytometry, revealing that both strains were internelized to the similar extent by macrophages. Additionally, quantitative imaging analysis revealed that the rate of phagolysosome fusion was higher in case of lip−/−C. parapsilosis. Interestingly, macrophages stimulated with lip−/−C. parapsilosis showed at least 1.5-fold higher expression of TNFα, IL-1β, IL-6, IL-8, and PTGS-2 after 12 h compared with those infected with wt C. parapsilosis, as determined by qRT-PCR. Furthermore, the lip−/−C. parapsilosis strain induced significantly higher TNFα, IL-1β, IL-6, and IL-10 protein production in macrophages after 24 h compared with the wt strain. These findings confirm the role of fungal lipases as important virulence factors during C. parapsilosis infection.
PMCID: PMC4063816  PMID: 24626151
Candida; fungal pathogenesis; host–pathogen interaction; immune responses; lipase; macrophages; parapsilosis; virulence; virulence factors
8.  Trichophyton rubrum is Inhibited by Free and Nanoparticle Encapsulated Curcumin by Induction of Nitrosative Stress after Photodynamic Activation 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(3):e0120179.
Antimicrobial photodynamic inhibition (aPI) utilizes radical stress generated from the excitation of a photosensitizer (PS) with light to destroy pathogens. Its use against Trichophyton rubrum, a dermatophytic fungus with increasing incidence and resistance, has not been well characterized. Our aim was to evaluate the mechanism of action of aPI against T. rubrum using curcumin as the PS in both free and nanoparticle (curc-np) form. Nanocarriers stabilize curcumin and allow for enhanced solubility and PS delivery. Curcumin aPI, at optimal conditions of 10 μg/mL of PS with 10 J/cm2 of blue light (417 ± 5 nm), completely inhibited fungal growth (p<0.0001) via induction of reactive oxygen (ROS) and nitrogen species (RNS), which was associated with fungal death by apoptosis. Interestingly, only scavengers of RNS impeded aPI efficacy, suggesting that curcumin acts potently via a nitrosative pathway. The curc-np induced greater NO• expression and enhanced apoptosis of fungal cells, highlighting curc-np aPI as a potential treatment for T. rubrum skin infections.
PMCID: PMC4372525  PMID: 25803281
9.  A role for vesicular transport of macromolecules across cell walls in fungal pathogenesis 
In our recent work, we have shown that fungal species from different phyla produce extracellular vesicles. The vesicles are heterogeneous and morphologically similar to mammalian exosomes, with intact bilayered membranes. Proteomic analyses reveal that the vesicles contain a broad array of macromolecules, many of which are associated with fungal virulence. Further, the biological import of the extracellular fungal vesicles is supported by their presence during murine cryptococcosis and the immunoreactivity of convalescent serum from patients with Cryptococcus neoformans or Histoplasma capsulatum vesicle protein extracts.
In contrast to most eukaryotic cells, fungi have complex cell walls, that could in theory provide a significant barrier to the secretion of large molecules. The discovery of trans-cell wall vesicular transport in fungi provides a solution to the problem of extracellular transport of macromolecules. Identifying similar vesicles in ascomycetes and basidiomycetes suggest that the shuttle system is ancient, predating the divergence of these branches 0.5–1.0 billion years ago. Importantly, the discovery of this trans-cell wall vesicular transport system also poses new, interesting questions for future investigations.
PMCID: PMC2629580  PMID: 19169363
Histoplasma capsulatum; Cryptococcus neoformans; vesicles; pathogenesis; virulence; cell transport
10.  A role for vesicular transport of macromolecules across cell walls in fungal pathogenesis 
In our recent work, we have shown that fungal species from different phyla produce extracellular vesicles. The vesicles are heterogeneous and morphologically similar to mammalian exosomes, with intact bilayered membranes. Proteomic analyses reveal that the vesicles contain a broad array of macromolecules, many of which are associated with fungal virulence. Further, the biological import of the extracellular fungal vesicles is supported by their presence during murine cryptococcosis and the immunoreactivity of convalescent serum from patients with Cryptococcus neoformans or Histoplasma capsulatum vesicle protein extracts.
In contrast to most eukaryotic cells, fungi have complex cell walls, that could in theory provide a significant barrier to the secretion of large molecules. The discovery of trans-cell wall vesicular transport in fungi provides a solution to the problem of extracellular transport of macromolecules. Identifying similar vesicles in ascomycetes and basidiomycetes suggest that the shuttle system is ancient, predating the divergence of these branches 0.5–1.0 billion years ago. Importantly, the discovery of this trans-cell wall vesicular transport system also poses new, interesting questions for future investigations.
PMCID: PMC2629580  PMID: 19169363
Histoplasma capsulatum; Cryptococcus neoformans; vesicles; pathogenesis; virulence; cell transport
11.  Correction: Methamphetamine Inhibits Antigen Processing, Presentation, and Phagocytosis 
PLoS Pathogens  2008;4(3):10.1371/annotation/bd02ad26-a081-4c61-88c2-ebda285b8bca.
PMCID: PMC2637120
12.  Review of Human Pathogenic Fungi: Molecular Biology and Pathogenic Mechanisms 
PMCID: PMC4324060
fungi; mold; yeast; molecular biology; pathogenesis; animal models
13.  Vesicular transport systems in fungi 
Future microbiology  2011;6(11):1371-1381.
Canonical and unconventional mechanisms of secretion in many eukaryotic cells are relatively well known. In contrast to the situation in animal cells, mechanisms of secretion in fungi must include the capacity for trans-cell wall passage of macromolecules to the extracellular space. Although these mechanisms remain somewhat elusive, several studies in recent years have suggested that vesicular transport is required for trans-cell wall secretion of large molecules. Several fungal molecules, including proteins, lipids, polysaccharides and pigments, are released to the extracellular space in vesicles. In pathogenic fungi, a number of these vesicular components are associated with fungal virulence. Indeed, extracellular vesicles produced by fungi can interfere with the immunomodulatory activity of host cells. Fungal vesicles share many functional aspects with mammalian exosomes and extracellular vesicles produced by bacteria, plants and protozoa, but their cellular origin remains unknown. Here, we discuss the involvement of vesicular transport systems in fungal physiology and pathogenesis, making parallels with the mammalian, bacterial, protozoan and plant cell literature.
PMCID: PMC4286297  PMID: 22082294
Cryptococcus neoformans; extracellular vesicles; fungal pathogens; secretion
14.  Vesicular transport across the fungal cell wall 
Trends in microbiology  2009;17(4):158-162.
Recent findings indicate that fungi use vesicular transport to deliver substances across their cell walls. Fungal vesicles are similar to mammalian exosomes and could originate from cytoplasmic multivesicular bodies. Vesicular transport enables the export of large molecules across the cell wall, and vesicles contain lipids, proteins and polysaccharides, many of which are associated with virulence. Concentration of fungal products in vesicles could increase their efficiency in food acquisition and/or delivering potentially noxious substances to other cells, such as amoebae or phagocytes. The discovery of vesicular transport in fungi opens many new avenues for investigation in basic cell biology and pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC4282776  PMID: 19299133
15.  Low-dose antibiotics: current status and outlook for the future 
PMCID: PMC4159977  PMID: 25309518
antibiotics; low dose antibiotics; immunomodulatory effect; environmental impact; growth promotion; feed additives
16.  Candida albicans and Candida parapsilosis Induce Different T-Cell Responses in Human Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2013;208(4):690-698.
Candida parapsilosis is the third most frequent cause of candidemia. Despite its clinical importance, little is known about the human immunological response to C. parapsilosis. In this study, we compared the cytokine responses evoked by Candida albicans and C. parapsilosis. C. parapsilosis–stimulated human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) produced similar quantities of tumor necrosis factor α and interleukin 6 and slightly lower amounts of interleukin 1β, compared with C. albicans–stimulated cells. PBMCs stimulated with C. parapsilosis displayed a skewed T-helper cell response, producing more interleukin 10 and less interferon γ than cells stimulated with C. albicans. Notably, C. parapsilosis induced much less interleukin 17 and interleukin 22 production as compared to C. albicans. Inhibition of the 3 classical mitogen-activated protein kinases (p38 kinase, ERK, and JNK) revealed kinase-dependent differences in reductions in cytokine production by the 2 Candida species. Decreased cytokine production after inhibition of dectin 1 revealed that this receptor plays a major role in the recognition of both C. albicans and C. parapsilosis. These data improve understanding of the immune response triggered by C. parapsilosis, a first step for the future design of immunotherapeutic strategies for these infections.
PMCID: PMC3719900  PMID: 23661798
Candida parapsilosis; human PBMC; T cell response
17.  Methamphetamine Alters Blood Brain Barrier Protein Expression in Mice, Facilitating Central Nervous System Infection by Neurotropic Cryptococcus neoformans 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2013;208(4):699-704.
Methamphetamine (METH) is a drug of abuse that is a potent and highly addictive central nervous system (CNS) stimulant. The blood brain barrier (BBB) is a unique interface that in part functions to prevent microbial invasion of the CNS. The effects of METH on brain vasculature have not been studied extensively. We hypothesized that METH alters the BBB integrity, increasing susceptibility to CNS infection. Using a murine model of METH administration, we demonstrated that METH alters BBB integrity and modifies the expression of tight junction and adhesion molecules. Additionally, we showed that BBB disruption accelerates transmigration of the neurotropic fungus Cryptococcus neoformans into the brain parenchyma after systemic infection. Furthermore, METH-treated mice displayed increased mortality as compared to untreated animals. Our findings provide novel evidence of the impact of METH abuse on the integrity of the cells that comprise the BBB and protect the brain from infection.
PMCID: PMC3719895  PMID: 23532099
methamphetamine; blood brain barrier; Cryptococcus neoformans
18.  The impact of antifungals on toll-like receptors 
Fungi are increasingly recognized as major pathogens in immunocompromised individuals. With the increase in the number of fungal infections each year and the development of resistance to current therapy, new approaches to treatment including stimulation of the immune response in addition to concurrent pharmacotherapy is ongoing. The most common invasive fungal infections are caused by Candida spp., Aspergillus spp., and Cryptococcus spp. Amphotericin B (AmB) has remained the cornerstone of therapy against many fulminant fungal infections but its use is limited by its multitude of side effects. Echinocandins are a newer class of antifungal drugs with activity against Candida spp. and Aspergillus spp. and constitutes an alternative to AmB due to superior patient tolerability and fewer side effects. Due to their oral delivery, azoles continue to be heavily used for simple and complex diseases, such as fluconazole for candidal vaginitis and voriconazole for aspergillosis. The objective of this paper is to present current knowledge regarding the multiple interactions between the broad spectrum antifungals and the innate immune response, primarily focusing on the toll-like receptors.
PMCID: PMC3954077  PMID: 24672516
antifungals; amphotericin B; echinocandins; caspofungin; voriconazole; toll-like receptors
19.  Galleria mellonella as a model host to study Paracoccidioides lutzii and Histoplasma capsulatum 
Virulence  2013;4(2):139-146.
Non-mammalian models have been used to investigate fungal virulence. In this work we have explored the use of Galleria mellonella as an infection model for the pathogenic dimorphic fungi Histoplasma capsulatum and Paracoccidioides lutzii. In mammalian models these fungi cause similar infections, and disease outcomes are influenced by the quantity of the infective inocula. We describe a similar aspect in a G. mellonella model and characterize the pathogenesis features in this system. Infection with P. lutzii or H. capsulatum, in all inoculum used, killed larvae at 25 and 37°C. However, there was a lack of correlation between the number of yeast cells used for infection and the time to larvae death, which may indicate that the fungi induce protective responses in a dynamic manner as the lowest concentrations of fungi induced the most rapid death. For both fungi, the degree of larvae melanization was directly proportional to the inocula size, and this effect was visibly more apparent at 37°C. Histological evaluation of the larvae showed a correlation between the inoculum and granuloma-like formation. Our results suggest that G. mellonella is a potentially useful model to study virulence of dimorphic fungi.
PMCID: PMC3654612  PMID: 23302787
Galleria mellonella; Paracoccidioides lutzii; Histoplasma capsulatum; infection model; fungal pathogenesis
20.  Mathematical Modeling Predicts Enhanced Growth of X-Ray Irradiated Pigmented Fungi 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85561.
Ionizing radiation is known for its cytotoxic and mutagenic properties. However, recent evidence suggests that chronic sub-lethal irradiation stimulates the growth of melanin-pigmented (melanized) fungi, supporting the hypothesis that interactions between melanin and ionizing photons generate energy useful for fungal growth, and/or regulate growth-promoting genes. There are no quantitative models of how fungal proliferation is affected by ionizing photon energy, dose rate, and presence versus absence of melanin on the same genetic background. Here we present such a model, which we test using experimental data on melanin-modulated radiation-induced proliferation enhancement in the fungus Cryptococcus neoformans, exposed to two different peak energies (150 and 320 kVp) over a wide range of X-ray dose rates. Our analysis demonstrates that radiation-induced proliferation enhancement in C. neoformans behaves as a binary “on/off” phenomenon, which is triggered by dose rates <0.002 mGy/h, and stays in the “on” position. A competing dose rate-dependent growth inhibition becomes apparent at dose rates >5000 mGy/h. Proliferation enhancement of irradiated cells compared with unirradiated controls occurs at both X-ray peak energies, but its magnitude is modulated by X-ray peak energy and cell melanization. At dose rates <5000 mGy/h, both melanized and non-melanized cells exposed to 150 kVp X-rays, and non-melanized cells exposed to 320 kVp X-rays, all exhibit the same proliferation enhancement: on average, chronic irradiation stimulates each founder cell to produce 100 (95% CI: 83, 116) extra descendants over 48 hours. Interactions between melanin and 320 kVp X-rays result in a significant (2-tailed p-value = 4.8×10−5) additional increase in the number of radiation-induced descendants per founder cell: by 55 (95% CI: 29, 81). These results show that both melanin-dependent and melanin-independent mechanisms are involved in radiation-induced fungal growth enhancement, and implicate direct and/or indirect interactions of melanin with high energy ionizing photons as an important pro-proliferative factor.
PMCID: PMC3893251  PMID: 24454887
21.  Impact of methamphetamine on infection and immunity 
The prevalence of methamphetamine (METH) use is estimated at ~35 million people worldwide, with over 10 million users in the United States. METH use elicits a myriad of social consequences and the behavioral impact of the drug is well understood. However, new information has recently emerged detailing the devastating effects of METH on host immunity, increasing the acquisition of diverse pathogens and exacerbating the severity of disease. These outcomes manifest as modifications in protective physical and chemical defenses, pro-inflammatory responses, and the induction of oxidative stress pathways. Through these processes, significant neurotoxicities arise, and, as such, chronic abusers with these conditions are at a higher risk for heightened consequences. METH use also influences the adaptive immune response, permitting the unrestrained development of opportunistic diseases. In this review, we discuss recent literature addressing the impact of METH on infection and immunity, and identify areas ripe for future investigation.
PMCID: PMC4290678  PMID: 25628526
methamphetamine; infectious diseases; immunity; drug abuse; HIV; neurotoxicity
22.  Methamphetamine Enhances Cryptococcus neoformans Pulmonary Infection and Dissemination to the Brain 
mBio  2013;4(4):e00400-13.
Methamphetamine (METH) is a major addictive drug of abuse in the United States and worldwide, and its use is linked to HIV acquisition. The encapsulated fungus Cryptococcus neoformans is the most common cause of fungal meningitis in patients with AIDS. In addition to functioning as a central nervous system stimulant, METH has diverse effects on host immunity. Using a systemic mouse model of infection and in vitro assays in order to critically assess the impact of METH on C. neoformans pathogenesis, we demonstrate that METH stimulates fungal adhesion, glucuronoxylomannan (GXM) release, and biofilm formation in the lungs. Interestingly, structural analysis of the capsular polysaccharide of METH-exposed cryptococci revealed that METH alters the carbohydrate composition of this virulence factor, an event of adaptation to external stimuli that can be advantageous to the fungus during pathogenesis. Additionally, we show that METH promotes C. neoformans dissemination from the respiratory tract into the brain parenchyma. Our findings provide novel evidence of the impact of METH abuse on host homeostasis and increased permissiveness to opportunistic microorganisms.
Methamphetamine (METH) is a major health threat to our society, as it adversely changes people’s behavior, as well as increases the risk for the acquisition of diverse infectious diseases, particularly those that enter through the respiratory tract or skin. This report investigates the effects of METH use on pulmonary infection by the AIDS-related fungus Cryptococcus neoformans. This drug of abuse stimulates colonization and biofilm formation in the lungs, followed by dissemination of the fungus to the central nervous system. Notably, C. neoformans modifies its capsular polysaccharide after METH exposure, highlighting the fungus’s ability to adapt to environmental stimuli, a possible explanation for its pathogenesis. The findings may translate into new knowledge and development of therapeutic and public health strategies to deal with the devastating complications of METH abuse.
PMCID: PMC3735193  PMID: 23900172
23.  Characterization of Virulence Properties in the C. parapsilosis Sensu Lato Species 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e68704.
The C. parapsilosis sensu lato group involves three closely related species, C. parapsilosis sensu stricto, C. orthopsilosis and C. metapsilosis. Although their overall clinical importance is dramatically increasing, there are few studies regarding the virulence properties of the species of the psilosis complex. In this study, we tested 63 C. parapsilosis sensu stricto, 12 C. metapsilosis and 18 C. orthopsilosis isolates for the ability to produce extracellular proteases, secrete lipases and form pseudohyphae. Significant differences were noted between species, with the C. metapsilosis strains failing to secrete lipase or to produce pseudohyphae. Nine different clinical isolates each of C. parapsilosis sensu stricto, C. orthopsilosis and C. metapsilosis were co-cultured with immortalized murine or primary human macrophages. C. parapsilosis sensu stricto isolates showed a significantly higher resistance to killing by primary human macrophages compared to C. orthopsilosis and C. metapsilosis isolates. In contrast, the killing of isolates by J774.2 mouse macrophages did not differ significantly between species. However, C. parapsilosis sensu stricto isolates induced the most damage to murine and human macrophages, and C. metapsilosis strains were the least toxic. Furthermore, strains that produced lipase or pseudohyphae were most resistant to macrophage-mediated killing and produced the most cellular damage. Finally, we used 9 isolates of each of the C. parapsilosis sensus lato species to examine their impact on the survival of Galleriamellonella larvae. The mortality rate of G. mellonella larvae infected with C. metapsilosis isolates was significantly lower than those infected with C. parapsilosis sensu stricto or C. orthopsilosis strains. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that C. metapsilosis is indeed the least virulent member of the psilosis group, and also highlight the importance of pseudohyphae and secreted lipases during fungal-host interactions.
PMCID: PMC3706360  PMID: 23874732
24.  The Role of L-DOPA on Melanization and Mycelial Production in Malassezia Furfur 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e63764.
Melanins are synthesized by organisms of all biological kingdoms and comprise a heterogeneous class of natural pigments. Certain of these polymers have been implicated in the pathogenesis of several important human fungal pathogens. This study investigated whether the fungal skin pathogen Malassezia furfur produces melanin or melanin-like compounds. A melanin-binding monoclonal antibody (MAb) labelled in vitro cultivated yeast cells of M. furfur. In addition, melanization of Malassezia yeasts and hyphae was detected by anti-melanin MAb in scrapings from patients with pityriasis versicolor. Treatment of Malassezia yeasts with proteolytic enzymes, denaturant and concentrated hot acid yielded dark particles and electron spin resonance spectroscopy revealed that these particles contained a stable free radical compound, consistent with their identification as melanins. Malassezia yeasts required phenolic compounds, such as L-DOPA, in order to synthesize melanin. L-DOPA also triggered hyphal formation in vitro when combined with kojic acid, a tyrosinase inhibitor, in a dose-dependent manner. In this respect, L-DOPA is thought to be an essential substance that is linked to both melanization and yeast-mycelial transformation in M. furfur. In summary, M. furfur can produce melanin or melanin-like compounds in vitro and in vivo, and the DOPA melanin pathway is involved in cell wall melanization.
PMCID: PMC3676409  PMID: 23762233
25.  Biosynthesis and Functions of a Melanoid Pigment Produced by Species of the Sporothrix Complex in the Presence of l-Tyrosine 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2012;78(24):8623-8630.
Sporothrix schenckii is the etiological agent of sporotrichosis, the main subcutaneous mycosis in Latin America. Melanin is an important virulence factor of S. schenckii, which produces dihydroxynaphthalene melanin (DHN-melanin) in conidia and yeast cells. Additionally, l-dihydroxyphenylalanine (l-DOPA) can be used to enhance melanin production on these structures as well as on hyphae. Some fungi are able to synthesize another type of melanoid pigment, called pyomelanin, as a result of tyrosine catabolism. Since there is no information about tyrosine catabolism in Sporothrix spp., we cultured 73 strains, including representatives of newly described Sporothrix species of medical interest, such as S. brasiliensis, S. schenckii, and S. globosa, in minimal medium with tyrosine. All strains but one were able to produce a melanoid pigment with a negative charge in this culture medium after 9 days of incubation. An S. schenckii DHN-melanin mutant strain also produced pigment in the presence of tyrosine. Further analysis showed that pigment production occurs in both the filamentous and yeast phases, and pigment accumulates in supernatants during stationary-phase growth. Notably, sulcotrione inhibits pigment production. Melanin ghosts of wild-type and DHN mutant strains obtained when the fungus was cultured with tyrosine were similar to melanin ghosts yielded in the absence of the precursor, indicating that this melanin does not polymerize on the fungal cell wall. However, pyomelanin-producing fungal cells were more resistant to nitrogen-derived oxidants and to UV light. In conclusion, at least three species of the Sporothrix complex are able to produce pyomelanin in the presence of tyrosine, and this pigment might be involved in virulence.
PMCID: PMC3502921  PMID: 23042177

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