Evidence for Proinflammatory β-1,6 Glucans in the Pneumocystis carinii Cell Wall.
ABSTRACT: Inflammation is a major cause of respiratory impairment during Pneumocystis pneumonia. Studies support a significant role for cell wall β-glucans in stimulating inflammatory responses. Fungal β-glucans are comprised of d-glucose homopolymers containing β-1,3-linked glucose backbones with β-1,6-linked glucose side chains. Prior studies in Pneumocystis carinii have characterized β-1,3 glucan components of the organism. However, recent investigations in other organisms support important roles for β-1,6 glucans, predominantly in mediating host cellular activation. Accordingly, we sought to characterize β-1,6 glucans in the cell wall of Pneumocystis and to establish their activity in lung cell inflammation. Immune staining revealed specific β-1,6 localization in P. carinii cyst walls. Homology-based cloning facilitated characterization of a functional P. carinii kre6 (Pckre6) β-1,6 glucan synthase in Pneumocystis that, when expressed in kre6-deficient Saccharomyces cerevisiae, restored cell wall stability. Recently synthesized β-1,6 glucan synthase inhibitors decreased the ability of isolated P. carinii preparations to generate β-1,6 carbohydrate. In addition, isolated β-1,6 glucan fractions from Pneumocystis elicited vigorous tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) responses from macrophages. These inflammatory responses were significantly dampened by inhibition of host cell plasma membrane microdomain function. Together, these studies indicate that β-1,6 glucans are present in the P. carinii cell wall and contribute to lung cell inflammatory activation during infection.
Project description:Pneumocystis carinii remains an important opportunistic fungal pathogen causing life-threatening pneumonia in patients with AIDS and malignancy. Currently, little is known about how the organism adapts to environmental stresses and maintains its cellular integrity. We recently discovered an open reading frame approximately 600 bp downstream of the region coding GSC-1, a gene mediating beta-glucan cell wall synthesis in P. carinii. The predicted amino acid sequence of this new gene, termed P. carinii PHR1, exhibited 38% homology to Saccharomyces cerevisiae GAS1, a glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored protein essential to maintaining cell wall integrity, and 37% homology to Candida albicans PHR1/PHR2, pH-responsive genes encoding proteins recently implicated in cross-linking beta-1,3- and beta-1,6-glucans. In view of its homology to these related fungal genes, the pH-dependent expression of P. carinii PHR1 was examined. As in C. albicans, P. carinii PHR1 expression was repressed under acidic conditions but induced at neutral and more alkaline pH. PHR1-related proteins have been implicated in glucan cell wall stability under various environmental conditions. Although difficulties with P. carinii culture and transformation have traditionally limited assessment of gene function in the organism itself, we have successfully used heterologous expression of P. carinii genes in related fungi to address functional correlates of P. carinii-encoded proteins. Therefore, the potential role of P. carinii PHR1 in cell wall integrity was examined by assessing its ability to rescue an S. cerevisiae gas1 mutant with absent endogenous Phr1p-like activity. Interestingly, P. carinii PHR1 DNA successfully restored proliferation of S. cerevisiae gas1 mutants under lethal conditions of cell wall stress. These results indicate that P. carinii PHR1 encodes a protein responsive to environmental pH and capable of mediating fungal cell wall integrity.
Project description:Cell wall beta-glucan in a pathogenic fungus, Candida albicans, is highly branched with beta-1,3 and beta-1,6 linkages. We have isolated the C. albicans cDNAs for KRE6 and SKN1, the genes required for beta-1,6-glucan synthesis in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The results of Northern blot analysis revealed that C. albicans KRE6 was expressed at a higher level than SKN1 in the yeast phase, while SKN1 expression was strongly induced upon induction of hyphal formation. In addition, the C. albicans KRE6 and SKN1 mRNAs but not the actin mRNA were shortened during the yeast-hypha transition. Unlike S. cerevisiae, more than 50% of cell wall glucan was beta-1,6 linked in C. albicans. Neither beta-1,3-glucan nor beta-1,6-glucan was affected by the homozygous C. albicans skn1 delta null mutation. Although we never succeeded in generating the homozygous C. albicans kre6 delta null mutant, the hemizygous kre6 delta mutation decreased the KRE6 mRNA level by about 60% and also caused a more than 80% reduction of beta-1,6-glucan without affecting beta-1,3-glucan. The physiological function of KRE6 was further examined by studying gene regulation in C. albicans. When KRE6 transcription was suppressed by using the HEX1 promoter, C. albicans cells exhibited the partial defect in cell separation and increased susceptibility to Calcofluor White. These results demonstrate that KRE6 plays important roles in beta-1,6-glucan synthesis and budding in C. albicans.
Project description:Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia is an opportunistic fungal infection that causes severe respiratory impairment in immunocompromised patients. The viability of Pneumocystis organisms is dependent on the cyst cell wall, a structural feature that is regulated by essential cell wall-associated enzymes. The formation of the glucan-rich cystic wall has been previously characterized, but glucan degradation in the organism-specifically, degradation during trophic excystment-is not yet fully understood. Most studies of basic Pneumocystis biology have been conducted in Pneumocystis carinii or Pneumocystis murina, the varieties of this genus that infect rats and mice, respectively. Furthermore, all known treatments for P. jirovecii were initially discovered through studies of P. carinii. Accordingly, in this study, we have identified a P. carinii beta-1,3-endoglucanase gene (PCEng2) that is demonstrated to play a significant role in cell wall regulation. The cDNA sequence contained a 2.2-kb open reading frame with conserved amino acid domains homologous to similar fungal glycosyl hydrolases (GH family 81). The gene transcript showed up-regulation in cystic isolates, and the expressed protein was detected within both cyst and trophic forms. Complementation assays in Eng2-deleted Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains showed restoration of the cell wall separation defect during proliferation, demonstrating the importance of PCEng2 protein. during fungal growth. These findings suggest that regulation of cyst cell wall beta-glucans is a fundamental process during completion of the Pneumocystis life cycle.
Project description:The KRE6 gene product is required for synthesis of the major beta-glucans of the yeast cell wall, as mutations in this gene confer reduced levels of both the (1----6)- and (1----3)-beta-D-glucan polymers. Cloning and sequencing of KRE6 reveals a gene encoding a predicted 80-kDa protein with a central transmembrane domain and the topology of a type II membrane protein. Null mutants of KRE6 grow slowly, have larger cells, and show a reduction in alkali-insoluble wall glucans. The mutants show good viability and are not osmotically sensitive, but they are more susceptible to beta-glucanase digestion and mechanical stress than wild-type cells. The specific activity of the GTP-dependent, membrane-associated, in vitro (1----3)-beta-glucan synthase is reduced 50% in kre6 null mutants, and this reduction correlates with the mutation in meiotic tetrads. Transformants of kre6 null mutants with a KRE6 gene expressed from a centomere-based vector show a 4- to 5-fold increase in in vitro (1----3)-beta-glucan synthase activity over transformants with the vector alone. The phenotype and structure of the KRE6 product, Kre6p, suggest that Kre6p may be a beta-glucan synthase, and if so, it implies that beta-glucan synthases are functionally redundant in yeast. Alternatively, Kre6p may be part of a single multiprotein glucan synthase or modulate its activity. Use of KRE6 should permit a genetic analysis of eukaryotic (1----3)-beta-glucan synthesis.
Project description:CWH41 encodes a novel type II integral membrane N-glycoprotein located in the endoplasmic reticulum. Disruption of the CWH41 gene leads to a K1 killer toxin-resistant phenotype and a 50% reduction in the cell wall beta 1,6-glucan level. CWH41 also displays strong genetic interactions with KRE1 and KRE6, two genes known to be involved in the beta 1,6-glucan biosynthetic pathway. The cwh41 delta kre6 delta double mutant is nonviable; and the cwh41 delta kre1 delta double mutation results in strong synergistic defects, with a severely slow-growth phenotype, a 75% reduction in beta 1,6-glucan level, and the secretion of a cell wall glucomannoprotein, Cwp1p. These results provide strong genetic evidence indicating that Cwh41p plays a functional role, possibly as a new synthetic component, in the assembly of cell wall beta 1,6-glucan.
Project description:β-glucans, which can activate innate immune responses, are a major component in the cell wall of the cyst form of Pneumocystis. In the current study we examined whether β-1,3 glucans are masked by surface proteins in Pneumocystis, and what role β-glucans play in Pneumocystis-associated inflammation. For 3 species, including P. jirovecii, which causes Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) in humans, P. carinii, and P. murina, β-1,3 glucans were masked in most organisms, as demonstrated by increased exposure following trypsin treatment. Using Q-PCR and microarray techniques, we demonstrated in a mouse model of PCP that treatment with caspofungin, an inhibitor of β-1,3 glucan synthesis, for 21 days, decreased expression of a broad panel of inflammatory markers, including IFN-γ, TNF-α, IL-1β, IL-6, and multiple chemokines/chemokine ligands. Thus, β-glucans in Pneumocystis cysts are largely masked, which likely decreases innate immune activation; this mechanism presumably was developed for interactions with immunocompetent hosts, in whom organism loads are substantially lower. In immunosuppressed hosts with a high organism burden, organism death and release of glucans appears to be an important contributor to deleterious host inflammatory responses. Overall design: Gene expression microarrays from 4 samples of mouse lung tissues infected with Pneumocystis and treated with caspofungin compared with 3 samples of untreated and 4 samples uninfected.
Project description:?-glucans, which can activate innate immune responses, are a major component in the cell wall of the cyst form of Pneumocystis In the current study, we examined whether ?-1,3-glucans are masked by surface proteins in Pneumocystis and what role ?-glucans play in Pneumocystis-associated inflammation. For 3 species, including Pneumocystis jirovecii, which causes Pneumocystis pneumonia in humans, Pneumocystis carinii, and Pneumocystis murina, ?-1,3-glucans were masked in most organisms, as demonstrated by increased exposure following trypsin treatment. Using quantitative polymerase chain reaction and microarray techniques, we demonstrated in a mouse model of Pneumocystis pneumonia that treatment with caspofungin, an inhibitor of ?-1,3-glucan synthesis, for 21 days decreased expression of a broad panel of inflammatory markers, including interferon ?, tumor necrosis factor ?, interleukin 1?, interleukin 6, and multiple chemokines/chemokine ligands. Thus, ?-glucans in Pneumocystis cysts are largely masked, which likely decreases innate immune activation; this mechanism presumably was developed for interactions with immunocompetent hosts, in whom organism loads are substantially lower. In immunosuppressed hosts with a high organism burden, organism death and release of glucans appears to be an important contributor to deleterious host inflammatory responses.
Project description:The polysaccharide beta-1,6-glucan is a major component of the cell wall of Cryptococcus neoformans, but its function has not been investigated in this fungal pathogen. We have identified and characterized seven genes, belonging to the KRE family, which are putatively involved in beta-1,6-glucan synthesis. The H99 deletion mutants kre5Delta and kre6Deltaskn1Delta contained less cell wall beta-1,6-glucan, grew slowly with an aberrant morphology, were highly sensitive to environmental and chemical stress and were avirulent in a mouse inhalation model of infection. These two mutants displayed alterations in cell wall chitosan and the exopolysaccharide capsule, a primary cryptococcal virulence determinant. The cell wall content of the GPI-anchored phospholipase B1 (Plb1) enzyme, which is required for cryptococcal cell wall integrity and virulence, was reduced in kre5Delta and kre6Deltaskn1Delta. Our results indicate that KRE5, KRE6 and SKN1 are involved in beta-1,6-glucan synthesis, maintenance of cell wall integrity and retention of mannoproteins and known cryptococcal virulence factors in the cell wall of C. neoformans. This study sets the stage for future investigations into the function of this abundant cell wall polymer.
Project description:Innate immunity depends upon recognition of surface features common to broad groups of pathogens. The glucose polymer beta-glucan has been implicated in fungal immune recognition. Fungal walls have two kinds of beta-glucan: beta-1,3-glucan and beta-1,6-glucan. Predominance of beta-1,3-glucan has led to the presumption that it is the key immunological determinant for neutrophils. Examining various beta-glucans for their ability to stimulate human neutrophils, we find that the minor cell wall component beta-1,6-glucan mediates neutrophil activity more efficiently than beta-1,3-glucan, as measured by engulfment, production of reactive oxygen species, and expression of heat shock proteins. Neutrophils rapidly ingest beads coated with beta-1,6-glucan while ignoring those coated with beta-1,3-glucan. Complement factors C3b/C3d are deposited on beta-1,6-glucan more readily than on beta-1,3-glucan. Beta-1,6-glucan is also important for efficient engulfment of the human pathogen Candida albicans. These unique stimulatory effects offer potential for directed stimulation of neutrophils in a therapeutic context.
Project description:Pneumocystis carinii (Pc) ?-glucans are major components of the organism cell wall; yet, the regulation of Pc cell wall genesis and remodeling is not well understood. Ace2 transcription factors, which are present in many fungi, regulate glucanases and other enzymes needed for cell wall remodeling. The cloning and heterologous expression of PcAce2 in ace2? Saccharomyces cerevisiae demonstrated that PcAce2 can restore the defective glucanase and endochitinase gene expression of the mutant as well as regulate cell wall ?-glucan biosynthetic genes. Furthermore, when a reconstructed yeast system was used, PcAce2 activated the transcription of the Pneumocystis gsc1 ?-glucan synthetase, confirming the activity of a Pc transcription factor on a native Pneumocystis promoter and gene for the first time. We further observed that Pneumocystis binding to host extracellular matrix proteins and lung epithelial cells induced the phosphorylation (activation) of the PcAce2 transcription factor. Finally, we present a novel method that confirms the role of PcAce2 in modulating organism virulence using ace2? Candida glabrata infection in neutropenic mice. Together, these results indicate that the adherence of Pc to lung matrix proteins and epithelial cells leads to the activation of the Ace2 transcription factor, which regulates cell wall degradation and biosynthesis genes that are required for cell wall remodeling.