The molecular pathogenicity of Fusarium keratitis: a fungal transcriptional regulator promotes hyphal penetration of the cornea.
ABSTRACT: The pathogenic mechanisms of fungal infection during human keratomycosis were investigated in an ex vivo corneal model that used strains of Fusarium oxysporum differing in the production of a fungal transcription factor.A pacC loss-of-function mutant and a pacC dominant-activating mutant were constructed from a wild-type isolate of F. oxysporum, and the 3 strains were characterized by in vitro growth kinetics. Twenty-seven human donor corneas maintained in tissue culture were superficially scarified and topically inoculated with the wild-type, the pacC loss-of-function mutant, or the pacC dominant-activating strains. Relative hyphal invasion into the stroma was compared histopathologically in corneal sections.F. oxysporum strains demonstrated comparable exponential growth rates in vitro. Wild-type F. oxysporum invaded into the corneal tissue within 1 day and penetrated through the anterior stroma during the next 4 days. The pacC loss-of-function mutant invaded explanted corneas significantly less than the wild-type strain on day 1 (P < 0.0001) and on day 3 (P = 0.0003). The pacC dominant-activating strain adhered and penetrated explanted corneas similar to the wild-type strain.The PacC pathway regulating the transcription of fungal genes allows fungal adaptation to the ocular surface and enables invasion of the injured cornea by F. oxysporum.
Project description:Fungi possess efficient mechanisms of pH and ion homeostasis, allowing them to grow over a wide range of environmental conditions. In this study, we addressed the role of the pH response transcription factor PacC in salt tolerance of the vascular wilt pathogen Fusarium oxysporum. Loss-of-function pacC(+/-) mutants showed increased sensitivity to Li(+) and Na(+) and accumulated higher levels of these cations than the wild type. In contrast, strains expressing a dominant activating pacC(c) allele were more salt tolerant and had lower intracellular Li(+) and Na(+) concentrations. Although the kinetics of Li(+) influx were not altered by mutations in pacC, we found that Li(+) efflux at an alkaline, but not at an acidic, ambient pH was significantly reduced in pacC(+/-) loss-of-function mutants. To explore the presence of a PacC-dependent efflux mechanism in F. oxysporum, we cloned ena1 encoding an orthologue of the yeast P-type Na(+)-ATPase ENA1. Northern analysis revealed that efficient transcriptional activation of ena1 in F. oxysporum required the presence of high Na(+) concentrations and alkaline ambient pH and was dependent on PacC function. We propose a model in which PacC controls ion homeostasis in F. oxysporum at a high pH by activating expression of ena1 coordinately with a second Na(+)-responsive signaling pathway.
Project description:Purpose. To investigate the expression and function of toll-like receptors (TLRs) during experimental keratomycosis. Methods. Scarified corneas of BALB/c mice were topically inoculated with Candida albicans and compared with control corneas by a murine gene microarray and immunostaining. Real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) determined relative TLR gene expression in murine and human donor corneas. The scarified corneas of TLR2(-/-) mice, TLR4(-/-) mice, and C57BL/6J control mice were also inoculated with C. albicans, to determine relative severity, fungal load, and cytokine transcript levels. Results. TLR1, -2, -4, -6, and -13 were significantly upregulated (5- to 10-fold; P < 0.01) by microarray, and TLR1, -2, -4, and -13 were significantly increased (4- to 11-fold; P < 0.05) by real-time RT-PCR in BALB/c murine corneas. Similarly, TLR2, -6, and -13 were significantly upregulated (5- to 16-fold; P < or = 0.001) by real-time RT-PCR in C57BL/6J murine corneas the day after inoculation, and TLR2 and -13 remained significantly (P < 0.05) increased after 1 week. TLR2 transcript was also upregulated twofold (P = 0.04) in C. albicans-inoculated explanted human corneas. Although murine keratitis severity scores were similar, significantly more fungi were recovered from TLR2(-/-) mouse corneas (P = 0.04) than from TLR4(-/-) mouse corneas (P = 0.9). Tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin 23, chemokine C-C ligands 3 and 4, and dectin-1 were significantly (P < 0.05) downregulated in C. albicans-infected corneas of TLR2(-/-) mice. Conclusions. TLR2 signals proinflammatory cytokines that control fungal growth during C. albicans keratitis. TLR13 may have an additional role in the innate immune response of murine corneal candidiasis.
Project description:BACKGROUND: To characterize Fusarium isolates from recent cases of fungal keratitis in contact lens wearers, and to investigate fungal association with MoistureLoc solution. METHODS: We studied six fungal isolates from recent cases of keratitis in New York State. The isolates were characterized by nucleotide sequencing and phylogenetic analyses of multiple genes, and then typed using minisatellite and microsatellite probes. Experimental fungal biofilm formation was tested by standard methods. MoistureLoc solutions were tested in biofouling studies for their efficacy in elimination of Fusarium contamination. RESULTS: Fusarium solani--corneal ulcers (2 isolates), lens case (1 isolate), and F. oxysporum--corneal ulcer (1 isolate), eye (1 isolate), were recovered from five patients. An opened bottle of MoistureLoc solution provided by a patient also yielded F. solani. Two distinct genotypes of F. solani as well as of F. oxysporum were present in the isolated strains. Remarkably, F. solani strains from the lens case and lens solution in one instance were similar, based on phylogenetic analyses and molecular typing. The solution isolate of F. solani formed biofilm on contact lenses in control conditions, but not when co-incubated with MoistureLoc solution. Both freshly opened and 3-month old MoistureLoc solutions effectively killed F. solani and F. oxysporum, when fungal contamination was simulated under recommended lens treatment regimen (4-hr). However, simulation of inappropriate use (15-60 min) led to the recovery of less than 1% of original inoculum of F. solani or F. oxysporum. CONCLUSION: Temporary survival of F. solani and F. oxysporum in MoistureLoc suggested that improper lens cleaning regimen could be a possible contributing factor in recent infections.
Project description:Pathogenic fungi must respond effectively to changes in environmental pH for successful host colonization, virulence and toxin production. Aspergillus carbonarius is a mycotoxigenic pathogen with the ability to colonize many plant hosts and secrete ochratoxin A (OTA). In this study, we characterized the functions and addressed the role of PacC-mediated pH signaling in A. carbonarius pathogenicity using designed pacC gene knockout mutant. ?AcpacC mutant displayed an acidity-mimicking phenotype, which resulted in impaired fungal growth at neutral/alkaline pH, accompanied by reduced sporulation and conidial germination compared to the wild type (WT) strain. The ?AcpacC mutant was unable to efficiently acidify the growth media as a direct result of diminished gluconic and citric acid production. Furthermore, loss of AcpacC resulted in a complete inhibition of OTA production at pH 7.0. Additionally, ?AcpacC mutant exhibited attenuated virulence compared to the WT toward grapes and nectarine fruits. Reintroduction of pacC gene into ?AcpacC mutant restored the WT phenotype. Our results demonstrate important roles of PacC of A. carbonarius in OTA biosynthesis and in pathogenicity by controlling transcription of genes important for fungal secondary metabolism and infection.
Project description:Previously we reported that corneal epithelial barrier function against Pseudomonas aeruginosa was MyD88-dependent. Here, we explored contributions of MyD88-dependent receptors using vital mouse eyes and confocal imaging. Uninjured IL-1R (-/-) or TLR4 (-/-) corneas, but not TLR2 (-/-), TLR5 (-/-), TLR7 (-/-), or TLR9 (-/-), were more susceptible to P. aeruginosa adhesion than wild-type (3.8-fold, 3.6-fold respectively). Bacteria adherent to the corneas of IL-1R (-/-) or TLR5 (-/-) mice penetrated beyond the epithelial surface only if the cornea was superficially-injured. Bone marrow chimeras showed that bone marrow-derived cells contributed to IL-1R-dependent barrier function. In vivo, but not ex vivo, stromal CD11c+?cells responded to bacterial challenge even when corneas were uninjured. These cells extended processes toward the epithelial surface, and co-localized with adherent bacteria in superficially-injured corneas. While CD11c+ cell depletion reduced IL-6, IL-1?, CXCL1, CXCL2 and CXCL10 transcriptional responses to bacteria, and increased susceptibility to bacterial adhesion (>3-fold), the epithelium remained resistant to bacterial penetration. IL-1R (-/-) corneas also showed down-regulation of IL-6 and CXCL1 genes with and without bacterial challenge. These data show complex roles for TLR4, TLR5, IL-1R and CD11c+ cells in constitutive epithelial barrier function against P. aeruginosa, with details dependent upon in vivo conditions.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>In fungi, environmental pH is an important signal for development, and successful host colonization depends on homeostasis. Surprisingly, little is known regarding the role of pH in fungal-fungal interactions. Species of Trichoderma grow as soil saprobes but many are primarily mycotrophic, using other fungi as hosts. Therefore, Trichoderma spp. are studied for their potential in biocontrol of plant diseases. Particularly in alkaline soil, pH is a critical limiting factor for these biofungicides, whose optimal growth pH is 4-6. Gaining an understanding of pH adaptability is an important step in broadening the activity spectrum of these economically important fungi.<h4>Results</h4>We studied the pH-responsive transcription factor PacC by gene knockout and by introduction of a constitutively active allele (pacCc). ?pacC mutants exhibited reduced growth at alkaline pH, while pacCc strains grew poorly at acidic pH. In plate confrontation assays ?pacC mutants showed decreased ability to compete with the plant pathogens Rhizoctonia solani and Sclerotium rolfsii. The pacCc strain exhibited an overgrowth of R. solani that was comparable to the wild type, but was unable to overgrow S. rolfsii. To identify genes whose expression is dependent on pH and pacC, we designed oligonucleotide microarrays from the transcript models of the T. virens genome, and compared the transcriptomes of wild type and mutant cultures exposed to high or low pH. Transcript levels from several functional classes were dependent on pacC, on pH, or on both. Furthermore, the expression of a set of pacC-dependent genes was increased in the constitutively-active pacCc strain, and was pH-independent in some, but not all cases.<h4>Conclusions</h4>PacC is important for biocontrol-related antagonism of other fungi by T. virens. As much as 5% of the transcriptome is pH-dependent, and of these genes, some 25% depend on pacC. Secondary metabolite biosynthesis and ion transport are among the relevant gene classes. We suggest that ?pacC mutants may have lost their full biocontrol potential due to their inability to adapt to alkaline pH, to perceive ambient pH, or both. The results raise the novel possibility of genetically manipulating Trichoderma in order to improve adaptability and biocontrol at alkaline pH.
Project description:A homologue of the gene encoding the transcription factor Rim101 (PacC), involved in pH signal transduction in fungi, was identified in the pathogenic basidiomycete Ustilago maydis. The gene (RIM101) encodes a protein of 827 amino acid residues, which shows highest similarity to PacC proteins from Fusarium oxysporum and Aspergillus niger. The gene had the capacity to restore protease activity to rim101 mutants from Yarrowia lipolytica, confirming its homologous function, and was expressed at both acid and neutral pH. Null Deltarim101 mutants were not affected in the in vitro pH-induced dimorphic transition, their growth rate, resistance to hypertonic sorbitol or KCl stress, and pathogenicity. However, similar to pacC (rim101) mutants in other fungi, they displayed a pleiotropic phenotype with alterations in morphogenesis, impairment in protease secretion, and increased sensitivity to Na+ and Li+ ions. Other phenotypic characteristics not previously reported in fungal pacC (rim101) mutants (morphological changes, increased sensitivity to lytic enzymes, and augmented polysaccharide secretion) were also observed in U. maydis mutants. All these modifications were alleviated by transformation with the wild-type gene, confirming that all were the result of mutation in RIM101. These data indicate that the Pal/Rim pathway is functional in U. maydis (and probably in other basidiomycetes) and plays complex roles in pH-sensing phenomena, as occurs in ascomycetes and deuteromycetes.
Project description:Chemotactic cytokines mediate the recruitment of leukocytes into infected tissues. This study investigated the profile of chemokines during experimental Candida albicans keratitis and determined the effects of chemokine inhibition on leukocyte infiltration and fungal growth during murine keratomycosis. Scarified corneas of BALB/c mice were topically inoculated with C. albicans and monitored daily over one week for fungal keratitis. After a gene microarray for murine chemokines compared infected corneas to controls, real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and immunostaining assessed chemokine expression in infected and mock-inoculated corneas. An anti-chemokine antibody was then administered subconjunctivally and evaluated for effects on clinical severity, corneal inflammation, fungal recovery, and cytokine expression. Of 33 chemokine genes examined by microarray, 6 CC chemokines and 6 CXC chemokines were significantly (P<0.05) upregulated more than two-fold. Chemokine (CC-motif) ligand 3 (CCL3) was upregulated 108-fold (P=0.03) by real-time RT-PCR within one day after fungal inoculation and remained increased 28-fold (P=0.02) at one week, and its in situ expression increased in the epithelium and stroma of infected corneas. Compared to the control antibody-treated group, eyes treated with anti-CCL3 antibody showed reduced clinical severity (P<0.05), less corneal neovascularization (P=0.02), and fewer inflammatory cells infiltrating corneal tissue, but the amount of recoverable fungi was not significantly (P=0.4) affected. Anti-CCL3 treatment significantly (P=0.01) reduced the expression of tumor necrosis factor and interleukin-1beta in infected corneas. These results indicate that chemokines, especially the CC chemokine CCL3, play important roles in the acute inflammatory response to C. albicans corneal infection.
Project description:Aspergillus species are a major worldwide cause of corneal ulcers, resulting in visual impairment and blindness in immunocompetent individuals. To enhance our understanding of the pathogenesis of Aspergillus keratitis, we developed a murine model in which red fluorescent protein (RFP)-expressing A. fumigatus (Af293.1RFP) conidia are injected into the corneal stroma, and disease progression and fungal survival are tracked over time. Using Mafia mice in which c-fms expressing macrophages and dendritic cells can be induced to undergo apoptosis, we demonstrated that the presence of resident corneal macrophages is essential for production of IL-1beta and CXCL1/KC, and for recruitment of neutrophils and mononuclear cells into the corneal stroma. We found that beta-glucan was highly expressed on germinating conidia and hyphae in the cornea stroma, and that both Dectin-1 and phospho-Syk were up-regulated in infected corneas. Additionally, we show that infected Dectin-1(-/-) corneas have impaired IL-1beta and CXCL1/KC production, resulting in diminished cellular infiltration and fungal clearance compared with control mice, especially during infection with clinical isolates expressing high beta-glucan. In contrast to Dectin 1(-/-) mice, cellular infiltration into infected TLR2(-/-), TLR4(-/-), and MD-2(-/-) mice corneas was unimpaired, indicating no role for these receptors in cell recruitment; however, fungal killing was significantly reduced in TLR4(-/-) mice, but not TLR2(-/-) or MD-2(-/-) mice. We also found that TRIF(-/-) and TIRAP(-/-) mice exhibited no fungal-killing defects, but that MyD88(-/-) and IL-1R1(-/-) mice were unable to regulate fungal growth. In conclusion, these data are consistent with a model in which beta-glucan on A.fumigatus germinating conidia activates Dectin-1 on corneal macrophages to produce IL-1beta, and CXCL1, which together with IL-1R1/MyD88-dependent activation, results in recruitment of neutrophils to the corneal stroma and TLR4-dependent fungal killing.
Project description:To investigate the development of corneal neovascularization, the corneal expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and the antiangiogenic effects of a VEGF-inhibitory antibody during experimental keratomycosis.Scarified corneas of BALB/c mice were topically inoculated with Candidaalbicans and monitored daily for corneal neovascularization. A murine gene microarray compared infected corneas to controls 1 day after inoculation. Real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) determined levels of genes encoding VEGF-A, VEGF-B, VEGF-C, and VEGF-D and placental growth factor in infected, mock-inoculated, and normal corneas. Immunostaining localized VEGF-A in corneal sections. An anti-VEGF-A antibody that binds to murine VEGF was evaluated for effects on corneal neovascularization and fungal recovery.Eyes with C. albicans keratitis manifested limbal capillary budding on the second postinoculation day, and intrastromal neovascular tufts subsequently grew at a mean rate of 250+/-80 microm/day. One day after the onset of C. albicans keratitis, VEGF-A was upregulated 12.5 fold (p=0.01) by microarray and 8.8 fold (p=0.004) by real-time RT-PCR, followed by a measured decline toward baseline over one week. VEGF-A was present in the epithelium and stroma of infected corneas. Scarification alone did not alter VEGF expression compared to the normal cornea. Anti-VEGF-A antibody significantly (p<0.01) decreased the formation of new corneal blood vessels during experimental keratomycosis without adversely affecting the fungal load of C. albicans keratitis.Untreated C. albicans keratitis induces VEGF-A and leads to progressive corneal neovascularization that is preventable by a VEGF-blocking antibody.