Real-time imaging of trapping and urease-dependent transmigration of Cryptococcus neoformans in mouse brain.
ABSTRACT: Infectious meningitis and encephalitis is caused by invasion of circulating pathogens into the brain. It is unknown how the circulating pathogens dynamically interact with brain endothelium under shear stress, leading to invasion into the brain. Here, using intravital microscopy, we have shown that Cryptococcus neoformans, a yeast pathogen that causes meningoencephalitis, stops suddenly in mouse brain capillaries of a similar or smaller diameter than the organism, in the same manner and with the same kinetics as polystyrene microspheres, without rolling and tethering to the endothelial surface. Trapping of the yeast pathogen in the mouse brain was not affected by viability or known virulence factors. After stopping in the brain, C. neoformans was seen to cross the capillary wall in real time. In contrast to trapping, viability, but not replication, was essential for the organism to cross the brain microvasculature. Using a knockout strain of C. neoformans, we demonstrated that transmigration into the mouse brain is urease dependent. To determine whether this could be amenable to therapy, we used the urease inhibitor flurofamide. Flurofamide ameliorated infection of the mouse brain by reducing transmigration into the brain. Together, these results suggest that C. neoformans is mechanically trapped in the brain capillary, which may not be amenable to pharmacotherapy, but actively transmigrates to the brain parenchyma with contributions from urease, suggesting that a therapeutic strategy aimed at inhibiting this enzyme could help prevent meningitis and encephalitis caused by C. neoformans infection.
Project description:Cryptococcus neoformans (Cn) is an important opportunistic pathogen in the immunocompromised people, including AIDS patients, which leads to fatal cryptococcal meningitis with high mortality rate. Previous researches have shown that HIV-1 gp41-I90 ectodomain can enhance Cn adhesion to and invasion of brain microvascular endothelial cell (BMEC), which constitutes the blood brain barrier (BBB). However, little is known about the role of HIV-1 gp41-I90 in the monocyte transmigration across Cn-infected BBB. In the present study, we provide evidence that HIV-1 gp41-I90 and Cn synergistically enhance monocytes transmigration across the BBB in vitro and in vivo. The underlying mechanisms for this phenomenon require further study.In this study, the enhancing role of HIV-1 gp41-I90 in monocyte transmigration across Cn-infected BBB was demonstrated by performed transmigration assays in vitro and in vivo.Our results showed that the transmigration rate of monocytes are positively associated with Cn and/or HIV-1 gp41-I90, the co-exposure (HIV-1 gp41-I90?+?Cn) group showed a higher THP-1 transmigration rate (P?<?0.01). Using CD44 knock-down HBMEC or CD44 inhibitor Bikunin in the assay, the facilitation of transmigration rates of monocyte enhanced by HIV-1 gp41-I90 was significantly suppressed. Western blotting analysis and biotin/avidin enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (BA-ELISAs) showed that Cn and HIV-1 gp41-I90 could increase the expression of CD44 and ICAM-1 on the HBMEC. Moreover, Cn and/or HIV-1 gp41-I90 could also induce CD44 redistribution to the membrane lipid rafts. By establishing the mouse cryptococcal meningitis model, we found that HIV-1 gp41-I90 and Cn could synergistically enhance the monocytes transmigration, increase the BBB permeability and injury in vivo.Collectively, our findings suggested that HIV-1 gp41-I90 ectodomain can enhance the transmigration of THP-1 through Cn-infected BBB, which may be mediated by CD44. This novel study enlightens the future prospects to elaborate the inflammatory responses induced by HIV-1 gp41-I90 ectodomain and to effectively eliminate the opportunistic infections in AIDS patients.
Project description:Cryptococcus neoformans is an opportunistic fungal pathogen that causes life-threatening meningitis most commonly in populations with impaired immunity. Here, we resolved the transcriptome of the human brain endothelium challenged with C. neoformans to establish whether C. neoformans invades the CNS by co-opting particular signalling pathways as a means to promote its own entry. Among the 5 major pathways targeted by C. neoformans, the EPH-EphrinA1 (EphA2) tyrosine kinase receptor-signalling pathway was examined further. Silencing the EphA2 receptor transcript in a human brain endothelial cell line or blocking EphA2 activity with an antibody or chemical inhibitor prevented transmigration of C. neoformans in an in vitro model of the blood-brain barrier (BBB). In contrast, treating brain endothelial cells with an EphA2 chemical agonist or an EphA2 ligand promoted greater migration of fungal cells across the BBB. C. neoformans activated the EPH-tyrosine kinase pathway through a CD44-dependent phosphorylation of EphA2, promoting clustering and internalisation of EphA2 receptors. Moreover, HEK293T cells expressing EphA2 revealed an association between EphA2 and C. neoformans that boosted internalisation of C. neoformans. Collectively, the results suggest that C. neoformans promotes EphA2 activity via CD44, and this in turn creates a permeable barrier that facilitates the migration of C. neoformans across the BBB.
Project description:Urease in Cryptococcus neoformans plays an important role in fungal dissemination to the brain and causing meningoencephalitis. Although urea is not required for synthesis of apourease encoded by URE1, the available nitrogen source affected the expression of URE1 as well as the level of the enzyme activity. Activation of the apoenzyme requires three accessory proteins, Ure4, Ure6, and Ure7, which are homologs of the bacterial urease accessory proteins UreD, UreF, and UreG, respectively. A yeast two-hybrid assay showed positive interaction of Ure1 with the three accessory proteins encoded by URE4, URE6, and URE7. Metalloproteomic analysis of cryptococcal lysates using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) and a biochemical assay of urease activity showed that, as in many other organisms, urease is a metallocentric enzyme that requires nickel transported by Nic1 for its catalytic activity. The Ure7 accessory protein (bacterial UreG homolog) binds nickel likely via its conserved histidine-rich domain and appears to be responsible for the incorporation of Ni(2+) into the apourease. Although the cryptococcal genome lacks the bacterial UreE homolog, Ure7 appears to combine the functions of bacterial UreE and UreG, thus making this pathogen more similar to that seen with the plant system. Brain invasion by the ure1, ure7, and nic1 mutant strains that lack urease activity was significantly less effective in a mouse model. This indicated that an activated urease and not the Ure1 protein was responsible for enhancement of brain invasion and that the factors required for urease activation in C. neoformans resemble those of plants more than those of bacteria.Cryptococcus neoformans is the major fungal agent of meningoencephalitis in humans. Although urease is an important factor for cryptococcal brain invasion, the enzyme activation system has not been studied. We show that urease is a nickel-requiring enzyme whose activity level is influenced by the type of available nitrogen source. C. neoformans contains all the bacterial urease accessory protein homologs and nickel transporters except UreE, a nickel chaperone. Cryptococcal Ure7 (a homolog of UreG) apparently functions as both the bacterial UreG and UreE in activating the Ure1 apoenzyme. The cryptococcal urease accessory proteins Ure4, Ure6, and Ure7 interacted with Ure1 in a yeast two-hybrid assay, and deletion of any one of these not only inactivated the enzyme but also reduced the efficacy of brain invasion. This is the first study showing a holistic picture of urease in fungi, clarifying that urease activity, and not Ure1 protein, contributes to pathogenesis in C. neoformans.
Project description:Cryptococcus neoformans is a facultative intracellular pathogen and its interaction with macrophages is a key event determining the outcome of infection. Urease is a major virulence factor in C. neoformans but its role during macrophage interaction has not been characterized. Consequently, we analyzed the effect of urease on fungal-macrophage interaction using wild-type, urease-deficient and urease-complemented strains of C. neoformans. The frequency of non-lytic exocytosis events was reduced in the absence of urease. Urease-positive C. neoformans manifested reduced and delayed intracellular replication with fewer macrophages displaying phagolysosomal membrane permeabilization. The production of urease was associated with increased phagolysosomal pH, which in turn reduced growth of urease-positive C. neoformans inside macrophages. Interestingly, the ure1 mutant strain grew slower in fungal growth medium which was buffered to neutral pH (pH 7.4). Mice inoculated with macrophages carrying urease-deficient C. neoformans had lower fungal burden in the brain than mice infected with macrophages carrying wild-type strain. In contrast, the absence of urease did not affect survival of yeast when interacting with amoebae. Because of the inability of the urease deletion mutant to grow on urea as a sole nitrogen source, we hypothesize urease plays a nutritional role involved in nitrogen acquisition in the environment. Taken together, our data demonstrate that urease affects fitness within the mammalian phagosome, promoting non-lytic exocytosis while delaying intracellular replication and thus reducing phagolysosomal membrane damage, events that could facilitate cryptococcal dissemination when transported inside macrophages. This system provides an example where an enzyme involved in nutrient acquisition modulates virulence during mammalian infection.
Project description:Infection by the fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans causes lethal meningitis, primarily in immune-compromised individuals. Colonization of the brain by C. neoformans is dependent on copper (Cu) acquisition from the host, which drives critical virulence mechanisms. While C. neoformans Cu+ import and virulence are dependent on the Ctr1 and Ctr4 proteins, little is known concerning extracellular Cu ligands that participate in this process. We identified a C. neoformans gene, BIM1, that is strongly induced during Cu limitation and which encodes a protein related to lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases (LPMOs). Surprisingly, bim1 mutants are Cu deficient, and Bim1 function in Cu accumulation depends on Cu2+ coordination and cell-surface association via a glycophosphatidyl inositol anchor. Bim1 participates in Cu uptake in concert with Ctr1 and expression of this pathway drives brain colonization in mouse infection models. These studies demonstrate a role for LPMO-like proteins as a critical factor for Cu acquisition in fungal meningitis.
Project description:Cryptococcal meningitis (CM) causes high rates of HIV-related mortality, yet the Cryptococcus factors influencing patient outcome are not well understood. Pathogen-specific traits, such as the strain genotype and degree of antigen shedding, are associated with the clinical outcome, but the underlying biology remains elusive. In this study, we examined factors determining disease outcome in HIV-infected cryptococcal meningitis patients infected with Cryptococcus neoformans strains with the same multilocus sequence type (MLST). Both patient mortality and survival were observed during infections with the same sequence type. Disease outcome was not associated with the patient CD4 count. Patient mortality was associated with higher cryptococcal antigen levels, the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) fungal burden by quantitative culture, and low CSF fungal clearance. The virulence of a subset of clinical strains with the same sequence type was analyzed using a mouse inhalation model of cryptococcosis. We showed a strong association between human and mouse mortality rates, demonstrating that the mouse inhalation model recapitulates human infection. Similar to human infection, the ability to multiply in vivo, demonstrated by a high fungal burden in lung and brain tissues, was associated with mouse mortality. Mouse survival time was not associated with single C. neoformans virulence factors in vitro or in vivo; rather, a trend in survival time correlated with a suite of traits. These observations show that MLST-derived genotype similarities between C. neoformans strains do not necessarily translate into similar virulence either in the mouse model or in human patients. In addition, our results show that in vitro assays do not fully reproduce in vivo conditions that influence C. neoformans virulence.
Project description:BACKGROUND:NF-?B activation, pathogen invasion, polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN) transmigration (PMNT) across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) are the pathogenic triad hallmark features of bacterial meningitis, but the mechanisms underlying these events remain largely unknown. Vimentin, which is a novel NF-?B regulator, is the primary receptor for the major Escherichia coli K1 virulence factor IbeA that contributes to the pathogenesis of neonatal bacterial sepsis and meningitis (NSM). We have previously shown that IbeA-induced NF-?B signaling through its primary receptor vimentin as well as its co-receptor PTB-associated splicing factor (PSF) is required for pathogen penetration and leukocyte transmigration across the BBB. This is the first in vivo study to demonstrate how vimentin and related factors contributed to the pathogenic triad of bacterial meningitis. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:The role of vimentin in IbeA+ E. coli K1-induced NF-?B activation, pathogen invasion, leukocyte transmigration across the BBB has now been demonstrated by using vimentin knockout (KO) mice. In the in vivo studies presented here, IbeA-induced NF-?B activation, E. coli K1 invasion and polymorphonuclear neutrophil (PMN) transmigration across the BBB were significantly reduced in Vim-/- mice. Decreased neuronal injury in the hippocampal dentate gyrus was observed in Vim-/- mice with meningitis. The major inflammatory regulator ?7 nAChR and several signaling molecules contributing to NF-?B activation (p65 and p-CamKII) were significantly reduced in the brain tissues of the Vim-/- mice with E. coli meningitis. Furthermore, Vim KO resulted in significant reduction in neuronal injury and in ?7 nAChR-mediated calcium signaling. CONCLUSION/SIGNIFICANCE:Vimentin, a novel NF-?B regulator, plays a detrimental role in the host defense against meningitic infection by modulating the NF-?B signaling pathway to increase pathogen invasion, PMN recruitment, BBB permeability and neuronal inflammation. Our findings provide the first evidence for Vim-dependent mechanisms underlying the pathogenic triad of bacterial meningitis.
Project description:Cryptococcus neoformans is the most common cause of fungal meningitis, with high mortality and morbidity. The reason for the frequent occurrence of Cryptococcus infection in the central nervous system (CNS) is poorly understood. The facts that human and animal brains contain abundant inositol and that Cryptococcus has a sophisticated system for the acquisition of inositol from the environment suggests that host inositol utilization may contribute to the development of cryptococcal meningitis. In this study, we found that inositol plays an important role in Cryptococcus traversal across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) both in an in vitro human BBB model and in in vivo animal models. The capacity of inositol to stimulate BBB crossing was dependent upon fungal inositol transporters, indicated by a 70% reduction in transmigration efficiency in mutant strains lacking two major inositol transporters, Itr1a and Itr3c. Upregulation of genes involved in the inositol catabolic pathway was evident in a microarray analysis following inositol treatment. In addition, inositol increased the production of hyaluronic acid in Cryptococcus cells, which is a ligand known to binding host CD44 receptor for their invasion. These studies suggest an inositol-dependent Cryptococcus traversal of the BBB, and support our hypothesis that utilization of host-derived inositol by Cryptococcus contributes to CNS infection.
Project description:Rapid and accurate laboratory tests are important for the timely diagnosis and treatment of central nervous system infections. The FilmArray meningitis/encephalitis (ME) panel (BioFire Diagnostics, Salt Lake City, UT) is an FDA-cleared, multiplex molecular panel that allows the detection of 14 pathogens (bacterial [n = 6], viral [n = 7], and fungal [n = 1] pathogens) from cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). In this study, we evaluated the performance characteristics of the FilmArray ME panel using clinical, residual CSF samples (n = 291) that tested positive by a routine method(s) (e.g., bacterial culture, individual real-time PCR assay) for a pathogen represented on the ME panel. Of note, a subset (n = 76) of the CSF specimens was collected during the prevaccine era and had been characterized as positive for a bacterial pathogen. The FilmArray ME panel demonstrated an overall percent positive agreement (PPA) of 97.5% (78/80) for bacterial pathogens, 90.1% (145/161) for viruses, and 52% (26/50) for Cryptococcusneoformans/C. gattii Despite the low overall agreement (52%) between the ME panel and antigen testing for detection of C. neoformans/C. gattii, the percent positive agreement of the FilmArray assay for C. neoformans/C. gattii was 92.3% (12/13) when the results were compared directly to the results of routine fungal smear or culture. The FilmArray ME panel offers a rapid (?60-min), syndrome-based approach for the detection of select meningitis and encephalitis pathogens.
Project description:Bacterial meningitis is a deadly disease most commonly caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, leading to severe neurological sequelae including cerebral edema, seizures, stroke, and mortality when untreated. Meningitis is initiated by the transfer of S. pneumoniae from blood to the brain across the blood-cerebrospinal fluid barrier or the blood-brain barrier (BBB). The underlying mechanisms are still poorly understood. Current treatment strategies include adjuvant dexamethasone for inflammation and cerebral edema, followed by antibiotics. The success of dexamethasone is however inconclusive, necessitating new therapies for controlling edema, the primary reason for neurological complications. Since we have previously shown a general activation of hypoxia inducible factor (HIF-1?) in bacterial infections, we hypothesized that HIF-1?, via induction of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is involved in transmigration of pathogens across the BBB. In human, murine meningitis brain samples, HIF-1? activation was observed by immunohistochemistry. S. pneumoniae infection in brain endothelial cells (EC) resulted in in vitro upregulation of HIF-1?/VEGF (Western blotting/qRT-PCR) associated with increased paracellular permeability (fluorometry, impedance measurements). This was supported by bacterial localization at cell-cell junctions in vitro and in vivo in brain ECs from mouse and humans (confocal, super-resolution, electron microscopy, live-cell imaging). Hematogenously infected mice showed increased permeability, S. pneumoniae deposition in the brain, along with upregulation of genes in the HIF-1?/VEGF pathway (RNA sequencing of brain microvessels). Inhibition of HIF-1? with echinomycin, siRNA in bEnd5 cells or using primary brain ECs from HIF-1? knock-out mice revealed reduced endothelial permeability and transmigration of S. pneumoniae. Therapeutic rescue using the HIF-1? inhibitor echinomycin resulted in increased survival and improvement of BBB function in S. pneumoniae-infected mice. We thus demonstrate paracellular migration of bacteria across BBB and a critical role for HIF-1?/VEGF therein and hence propose targeting this pathway to prevent BBB dysfunction and ensuing brain damage in infections.