Induction of Broad-Spectrum Protective Immunity against Disparate Cryptococcus Serotypes.
ABSTRACT: Cryptococcosis is a fungal disease caused by multiple Cryptococcus serotypes; particularly C. neoformans (serotypes A and D) and C. gattii (serotypes B and C). To date, there is no clinically available vaccine to prevent cryptococcosis. Mice given an experimental pulmonary vaccination with a C. neoformans serotype A strain engineered to produce interferon-?, denoted H99?, are protected against a subsequent otherwise lethal experimental infection with C. neoformans serotype A. Thus, we determined the efficacy of immunization with C. neoformans strain H99? to elicit broad-spectrum protection in BALB/c mice against multiple disparate Cryptococcus serotypes. We observed significantly increased survival rates and significantly decreased pulmonary fungal burden in H99? immunized mice challenged with Cryptococcus serotypes A, B, or D compared to heat-killed H99? (HKH99?) immunized mice. Results indicated that prolonged protection against Cryptococcus serotypes B or D in H99? immunized mice was CD4+ T cell dependent and associated with the induction of predominantly Th1-type cytokine responses. Interestingly, immunization with H99? did not elicit greater protection against challenge with the Cryptococcus serotype C tested either due to low overall virulence of this strain or enhanced capacity of this strain to evade host immunity. Altogether, these studies provide "proof-of-concept" for the development of a cryptococcal vaccine that provides cross-protection against multiple disparate serotypes of Cryptococcus.
Project description:The human pathogenic fungus Cryptococcus neoformans has diverged from a common ancestor into three biologically distinct varieties or sibling species over the past 10-40 million years. During evolution of these divergent forms, serotype A C. neoformans var. grubii has emerged as the most virulent and cosmopolitan pathogenic clade. Therefore, understanding how serotype A C. neoformans is distinguished from less successful pathogenic serotypes will provide insights into the evolution of fungal virulence. Here we report that the structurally conserved Pbs2-Hog1 MAP kinase cascade has been specifically recruited as a global regulator to control morphological differentiation and virulence factors in the highly virulent serotype A H99 clinical isolate, but not in the laboratory-generated and less virulent serotype D strain JEC21. The mechanisms of Hog1 regulation are strikingly different between the two strains, and the phosphorylation kinetics and localization pattern of Hog1 are opposite in H99 compared with JEC21 and other yeasts. The unique Hog1 regulatory pattern observed in the H99 clinical isolate is widespread in serotype A strains and is also present in some clinical serotype D isolates. Serotype A hog1delta and pbs2delta mutants are attenuated in virulence, further underscoring the role of the Pbs2-Hog1 MAPK cascade in the pathogenesis of cryptococcosis.
Project description:Cryptococcus neoformans serotype A strains, the major cause of cryptococcosis, are distributed worldwide, while serotype D strains are more concentrated in Central Europe. We have previously shown that deletion of the global regulator TUP1 in serotype D isolates results in a novel peptide-mediated, density-dependent growth phenotype that mimics quorum sensing and is not known to exist in other fungi. Unlike for tup1Delta strains of serotype D, the density-dependent growth phenotype was found to be absent in tup1Delta strains of serotype A which had been derived from several different genetic clusters. The serotype A H99 tup1Delta strain showed less retardation in the growth rate than tup1Delta strains of serotype D, but the mating efficiency was found to be similar in both serotypes. Deletion of TUP1 in the H99 strain resulted in significantly enhanced capsule production and defective melanin formation and also revealed a unique regulatory role of the TUP1 gene in maintaining iron/copper homeostasis. Differential expression of various genes involved in capsule formation and iron/copper homeostasis was observed between the wild-type and tup1Delta H99 strains. Furthermore, the H99 tup1Delta strain displayed pleiotropic effects which included sensitivity to sodium dodecyl sulfate, susceptibility to fluconazole, and attenuated virulence. These results demonstrate that the global regulator TUP1 has pathobiological significance and plays both conserved and distinct roles in serotype A and D strains of C. neoformans.
Project description:Cryptococcus neoformans is the most common cause of fungal meningoencephalitis in AIDS patients. Depletion of CD4 cells, such as occurs during advanced AIDS, is known to be a critical risk factor for developing cryptococcosis. However, the role of HIV-induced innate inflammation in susceptibility to cryptococcosis has not been evaluated. Thus, we sought to determine the role of Type I IFN induction in host defense against cryptococci by treatment of C. neoformans (H99) infected mice with poly-ICLC (pICLC), a dsRNA virus mimic. Unexpectedly, pICLC treatment greatly extended survival of infected mice and reduced fungal burdens in the brain. Protection from cryptococcosis by pICLC-induced Type I IFN was mediated by MDA5 rather than TLR3. PICLC treatment induced a large, rapid and sustained influx of neutrophils and Ly6Chigh monocytes into the lung while suppressing the development of eosinophilia. The pICLC-mediated protection against H99 was CD4 T cell dependent and analysis of CD4 T cell polyfunctionality showed a reduction in IL-5 producing CD4 T cells, marginal increases in Th1 cells and dramatic increases in ROR?t+ Th17 cells in pICLC treated mice. Moreover, the protective effect of pICLC against H99 was diminished in IFN? KO mice and by IL-17A neutralization with blocking mAbs. Furthermore, pICLC treatment also significantly extended survival of C. gattii infected mice with reduced fungal loads in the lungs. These data demonstrate that induction of type I IFN dramatically improves host resistance against the etiologic agents of cryptococcosis by beneficial alterations in both innate and adaptive immune responses.
Project description:The features of protective murine antibodies to the Cryptococcus neoformans capsular polysaccharide glucuronoxylomannan (GXM) have been rigorously investigated; however, the characteristics of protective human antibodies to GXM have not been defined. We produced monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) from XenoMouse mice (transgenic mice that express human immunoglobulin M [IgM], IgG2, and kappa) which were immunized with a C. neoformans serotype D strain 24067 GXM-diphtheria toxoid conjugate. This study reports the specificity and efficacy of three human IgM MAbs, G14, G15, and G19, generated from these mice. Each MAb was specific for GXM, but G14 and G19 had different specificity based on their binding to serotype A strain H99 and SB4 GXMs, to which G15 did not bind. Nucleic acid sequence analysis revealed that G15 uses V(H)3-64 in the germ line configuration. G14 and G19 use V(H)6-1, which has somatic mutations. All of the MAbs use V kappa DPK22/A27. Studies of MAb efficacy in BALB/c mice showed that administration of 0.1 mg, but not 1 or 0.01 mg, of G15 prolonged survival against lethal C. neoformans strain 24067 challenge, whereas G14 and G19 were not protective at any dose. This panel of MAbs illustrates that serotype D GXM has epitopes that elicit human antibodies that can be either protective or nonprotective. Our findings suggest that V(H) gene use may influence GXM specificity and efficacy, and they provide insights into the possible contribution that V(H) gene use may have in resistance and susceptibility to cryptococcosis.
Project description:Cryptococcus neoformans var. grubii is the most frequent cause of AIDS-associated cryptococcosis worldwide, while Cryptococcus gattii usually infects immunocompetent people. To understand the mechanisms which cause differential susceptibility to these cryptococcal species in HIV infection, we established and characterized a model of cryptococcosis in CD4C/HIV(MutA) transgenic (Tg) mice expressing gene products of HIV-1 and developing an AIDS-like disease. Tg mice infected intranasally with C. neoformans var. grubii strain H99 or C23 consistently displayed reduced survival compared to non-Tg mice at three graded inocula, while shortened survival of Tg mice infected with C. gattii strain R265 or R272 was restricted to a single high inoculum. HIV-1 transgene expression selectively augmented systemic dissemination to the liver and spleen for strains H99 and C23 but not strains R265 and R272. Histopathologic examination of lungs of Tg mice revealed large numbers of widely scattered H99 cells, with a minimal inflammatory cell response, while in the non-Tg mice H99 was almost completely embedded within extensive mixed inflammatory cell infiltrates. In contrast to H99, R265 was dispersed throughout the lung parenchyma and failed to induce a strong inflammatory response in both Tg and non-Tg mice. HIV-1 transgene expression reduced pulmonary production of CCL2 and CCL5 after infection with H99 or R265, and production of these two chemokines was lower after infection with R265. These results indicate that an altered immune response in these Tg mice markedly enhances C. neoformans but not C. gattii infection. This model therefore provides a powerful new tool to further investigate the immunopathogenesis of cryptococcosis.
Project description:Cryptococcus neoformans and Cryptococcus gattii cause life-threatening meningoencephalitis or lung diseases in immunocompetent individuals or immunocompromised ones. C. neoformans and C. gattii are subdivided into five serotypes based on their capsular glucuronoxylomannan (GXM). C. neoformans consists of serotypes A, D, and AD hybrid, and C. gattii consists of serotypes B and C. Given structural differences of GXM between C. neoformans and C. gattii, it remains unclear that how innate immune system recognizes GXM. Here, we report that C-type lectin receptor Dectin-3 (MCL encoded by Clec4d) is a direct receptor for GXMs from C. neoformans serotype AD (C.n-AD) and C. gattii serotype B (C.g-B). GXMs from C.n-AD and C.g-B activated NF-?B and ERK pathways to induce pro-inflammatory cytokine production, whereas it was completely abolished due to deficiency of Dectin-3 or caspase recruitment domain family member 9 (CARD9). Upon pulmonary C.n-AD and C.g-B infection, Dectin-3- and CARD9-deficient mice were highly susceptible and showed augmented lung injury due to impairment of alveolar macrophage accumulation and killing activities. Our study provides the first biological and genetic evidence demonstrating that Dectin-3 recognizes GXM of C.n-AD and C.g-B to initiate host defense against cryptococcosis.
Project description:Cryptococcus neoformans, the predominant etiological agent of cryptococcosis, is an opportunistic fungal pathogen that primarily affects AIDS patients and patients undergoing immunosuppressive therapy. In immunocompromised individuals, C. neoformans can lead to life-threatening meningoencephalitis. Studies using a virulent strain of C. neoformans engineered to produce gamma interferon (IFN-?), denoted H99?, demonstrated that protection against pulmonary C. neoformans infection is associated with the generation of a T helper 1 (Th1)-type immune response and signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 (STAT1)-mediated classical (M1) macrophage activation. However, the critical mechanism by which M1 macrophages mediate their anti-C. neoformans activity remains unknown. The current studies demonstrate that infection with C. neoformans strain H99? in mice with macrophage-specific STAT1 ablation resulted in severely increased inflammation of the pulmonary tissue, a dysregulated Th1/Th2-type immune response, increased fungal burden, deficient M1 macrophage activation, and loss of protection. STAT1-deficient macrophages produced significantly less nitric oxide (NO) than STAT1-sufficient macrophages, correlating with an inability to control intracellular cryptococcal proliferation, even in the presence of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Furthermore, macrophages from inducible nitric oxide synthase knockout mice, which had intact ROS production, were deficient in anticryptococcal activity. These data indicate that STAT1 activation within macrophages is required for M1 macrophage activation and anti-C. neoformans activity via the production of NO.
Project description:Cryptococcus neoformans, the main causative agent of cryptococcosis, is a fungal pathogen that causes life-threatening meningoencephalitis in immunocompromised patients. To date, there is no vaccine or immunotherapy approved to treat cryptococcosis. Cell- and antibody-mediated immune responses collaborate to mediate optimal protection against C. neoformans infections. Accordingly, we identified cryptococcal protein fractions capable of stimulating cell- and antibody-mediated immune responses and determined their efficacy to elicit protection against cryptococcosis. Proteins were extracted from C. neoformans and fractionated based on molecular mass. The fractions were then evaluated by immunoblot analysis for reactivity to serum extracted from protectively immunized mice and in cytokine recall assays for their efficacy to induce pro-inflammatory and Th1-type cytokine responses associated with protection. MS analysis revealed a number of proteins with roles in stress response, signal transduction, carbohydrate metabolism, amino acid synthesis, and protein synthesis. Immunization with select protein fractions containing immunodominant antigens induced significantly prolonged survival against experimental pulmonary cryptococcosis. Our studies support using the combination of immunological and proteomic approaches to identify proteins that elicit antigen-specific antibody and Th1-type cytokine responses. The immunodominant antigens that were discovered represent attractive candidates for the development of novel subunit vaccines for treatment and/or prevention of cryptococcosis.
Project description:Urease catalyzes the hydrolysis of urea to ammonia and carbamate and has been found to be an important pathogenic factor for certain bacteria. Cryptococcus neoformans is a significant human pathogenic fungus that produces large amounts of urease; thus we wanted to investigate the importance of urease in the pathogenesis of cryptococcosis. We cloned and sequenced the genomic locus containing the single-copy C. neoformans urease gene (URE1) and used this to disrupt the native URE1 in the serotype A strain H99. The ure1 mutant strains were found to have in vitro growth characteristics, phenoloxidase activity, and capsule size similar to those of the wild type. Comparison of a ure1 mutant with H99 after intracisternal inoculation into corticosteroid-treated rabbits revealed no significant differences in colony counts recovered from the cerebrospinal fluid. However, when these two strains were compared in both the murine intravenous and inhalational infection models, there were significant differences in survival. Mice infected with a ure1 strain lived longer than mice infected with H99 in both models. The ure1 strain was restored to urease positivity by complementation with URE1, and two resulting transformants were significantly more pathogenic than the ure1 strain. Our results suggest that urease activity is involved in the pathogenesis of cryptococcosis but that the importance may be species and/or infection site specific.
Project description:We recently established that antibody (Ab)-binding can induce gene expression changes in a serotype A strain (H99) of the pathogenic yeast, Cryptococcus neoformans. That study showed that monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) differing in epitope specificity and protective efficacy elicited differences in gene expression. Because many mAbs bind to serotypes A and D strains differently, we now investigate the binding of one mAb to two strains representing these serotypes. Cells of the serotype A strain H99 and the serotype D strain 24067 were incubated with near saturating concentrations of the IgG1 capsule-binding mAb 18B7 or MOPC, an irrelevant mAb matched control. Comparative immunofluorescence analysis of mAb 18B7 binding revealed that it bound closer to the cell wall in H99 than 24067, where it was associated with decreased or increased cell diameter, respectively. A comparison of encapsulated cell compressibility showed that strain 24067 was more compressible than that of strain H99. RNA was extracted and used for gene expression analysis using the C. neoformans JEC21 genomic microarray. After 1h incubation with mAb 18B7, there were just 2 gene expression changes observed with strain 24067 or strain JEC21, unlike the 43 seen with strain H99. After 4h incubation with mAb 18B7, there were 14 and 140 gene expression changes observed with strain 24067 and JEC21, respectively. Thus, C. neoformans strains differ both in the response and the time of response to mAb binding and these differences may reflect differences in the location of Ab binding, Ab-mediated changes in cell diameter and compressibility of the capsular polysaccharide.