Oral epithelial cells orchestrate innate type 17 responses to Candida albicans through the virulence factor candidalysin.
ABSTRACT: Candida albicans is a dimorphic commensal fungus that causes severe oral infections in immunodeficient patients. Invasion of C. albicans hyphae into oral epithelium is an essential virulence trait. Interleukin-17 (IL-17) signaling is required for both innate and adaptive immunity to C. albicans During the innate response, IL-17 is produced by ?? T cells and a poorly understood population of innate-acting CD4+ ?? T cell receptor (TCR??)+ cells, but only the TCR??+ cells expand during acute infection. Confirming the innate nature of these cells, the TCR was not detectably activated during the primary response, as evidenced by Nur77eGFP mice that report antigen-specific signaling through the TCR. Rather, the expansion of innate TCR??+ cells was driven by both intrinsic and extrinsic IL-1R signaling. Unexpectedly, there was no requirement for CCR6/CCL20-dependent recruitment or prototypical fungal pattern recognition receptors. However, C. albicans mutants that cannot switch from yeast to hyphae showed impaired TCR??+ cell proliferation and Il17a expression. This prompted us to assess the role of candidalysin, a hyphal-associated peptide that damages oral epithelial cells and triggers production of inflammatory cytokines including IL-1. Candidalysin-deficient strains failed to up-regulate Il17a or drive the proliferation of innate TCR??+ cells. Moreover, candidalysin signaled synergistically with IL-17, which further augmented the expression of IL-1?/? and other cytokines. Thus, IL-17 and C. albicans, via secreted candidalysin, amplify inflammation in a self-reinforcing feed-forward loop. These findings challenge the paradigm that hyphal formation per se is required for the oral innate response and demonstrate that establishment of IL-1- and IL-17-dependent innate immunity is induced by tissue-damaging hyphae.
Project description:Unlike other forms of candidiasis, vulvovaginal candidiasis, caused primarily by the fungal pathogen Candida albicans, is a disease of immunocompetent and otherwise healthy women. Despite its prevalence, the fungal factors responsible for initiating symptomatic infection remain poorly understood. One of the hallmarks of vaginal candidiasis is the robust recruitment of neutrophils to the site of infection, which seemingly do not clear the fungus, but rather exacerbate disease symptomatology. Candidalysin, a newly discovered peptide toxin secreted by C. albicans hyphae during invasion, drives epithelial damage, immune activation, and phagocyte attraction. Therefore, we hypothesized that Candidalysin is crucial for vulvovaginal candidiasis immunopathology. Anti-Candida immune responses are anatomical-site specific, as effective gastrointestinal, oral, and vaginal immunities are uniquely compartmentalized. Thus, we aimed to identify the immunopathologic role of Candidalysin and downstream signaling events at the vaginal mucosa. Microarray analysis of C. albicans-infected human vaginal epithelium in vitro revealed signaling pathways involved in epithelial damage responses, barrier repair, and leukocyte activation. Moreover, treatment of A431 vaginal epithelial cells with Candidalysin induced dose-dependent proinflammatory cytokine responses (including interleukin 1? [IL-1?], IL-1?, and IL-8), damage, and activation of c-Fos and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling, consistent with fungal challenge. Mice intravaginally challenged with C. albicans strains deficient in Candidalysin exhibited no differences in colonization compared to isogenic controls. However, significant decreases in neutrophil recruitment, damage, and proinflammatory cytokine expression were observed with these strains. Our findings demonstrate that Candidalysin is a key hypha-associated virulence determinant responsible for the immunopathogenesis of C. albicans vaginitis.
Project description:During oropharyngeal candidiasis (OPC), Candida albicans invades and damages oral epithelial cells, which respond by producing proinflammatory mediators that recruit phagocytes to foci of infection. The ephrin type-A receptor 2 (EphA2) detects ?-glucan and plays a central role in stimulating epithelial cells to release proinflammatory mediators during OPC. The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) also interacts with C. albicans and is known to be activated by the Als3 adhesin/invasin and the candidalysin pore-forming toxin. Here, we investigated the interactions among EphA2, EGFR, Als3 and candidalysin during OPC. We found that EGFR and EphA2 constitutively associate with each other as part of a heteromeric physical complex and are mutually dependent for C. albicans-induced activation. Als3-mediated endocytosis of a C. albicans hypha leads to the formation of an endocytic vacuole where candidalysin accumulates at high concentration. Thus, Als3 potentiates targeting of candidalysin, and both Als3 and candidalysin are required for C. albicans to cause maximal damage to oral epithelial cells, sustain activation of EphA2 and EGFR, and stimulate pro-inflammatory cytokine and chemokine secretion. In the mouse model of OPC, C. albicans-induced production of CXCL1/KC and CCL20 is dependent on the presence of candidalysin and EGFR, but independent of Als3. The production of IL-1? and IL-17A also requires candidalysin but is independent of Als3 and EGFR. The production of TNF? requires Als1, Als3, and candidalysin. Collectively, these results delineate the complex interplay among host cell receptors EphA2 and EGFR and C. albicans virulence factors Als1, Als3 and candidalysin during the induction of OPC and the resulting oral inflammatory response.
Project description:Protection against microbial infection by the induction of inflammation is a key function of the IL-1 superfamily, including both classical IL-1 and the new IL-36 cytokine families. Candida albicans is a frequent human fungal pathogen causing mucosal infections. Although the initiators and effectors important in protective host responses to C. albicans are well described, the key players in driving these responses remain poorly defined. Recent work has identified a central role played by IL-1 in inducing innate Type-17 immune responses to clear C. albicans infections. Despite this, lack of IL-1 signaling does not result in complete loss of immunity, indicating that there are other factors involved in mediating protection to this fungus. In this study, we identify IL-36 cytokines as a new player in these responses. We show that C. albicans infection of the oral mucosa induces the production of IL-36. As with IL-1?/?, induction of epithelial IL-36 depends on the hypha-associated peptide toxin Candidalysin. Epithelial IL-36 gene expression requires p38-MAPK/c-Fos, NF-?B, and PI3K signaling and is regulated by the MAPK phosphatase MKP1. Oral candidiasis in IL-36R-/- mice shows increased fungal burdens and reduced IL-23 gene expression, indicating a key role played by IL-36 and IL-23 in innate protective responses to this fungus. Strikingly, we observed no impact on gene expression of IL-17 or IL-17-dependent genes, indicating that this protection occurs via an alternative pathway to IL-1-driven immunity. Thus, IL-1 and IL-36 represent parallel epithelial cell-driven protective pathways in immunity to oral C. albicans infection.
Project description:Clearance of invading microbes requires phagocytes of the innate immune system. However, successful pathogens have evolved sophisticated strategies to evade immune killing. The opportunistic human fungal pathogen Candida albicans is efficiently phagocytosed by macrophages, but causes inflammasome activation, host cytolysis, and escapes after hypha formation. Previous studies suggest that macrophage lysis by C. albicans results from early inflammasome-dependent cell death (pyroptosis), late damage due to glucose depletion and membrane piercing by growing hyphae. Here we show that Candidalysin, a cytolytic peptide toxin encoded by the hypha-associated gene ECE1, is both a central trigger for NLRP3 inflammasome-dependent caspase-1 activation via potassium efflux and a key driver of inflammasome-independent cytolysis of macrophages and dendritic cells upon infection with C. albicans. This suggests that Candidalysin-induced cell damage is a third mechanism of C. albicans-mediated mononuclear phagocyte cell death in addition to damage caused by pyroptosis and the growth of glucose-consuming hyphae.
Project description:Host released alarmins and antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are highly effective as antifungal agents and inducers. Whilst some are expressed constitutively at mucosal tissues, the primary site of many infections, others are elicited in response to pathogens. In the context of Candida albicans, the fungal factors inducing the release of these innate immune molecules are poorly defined. Herein, we identify candidalysin as a potent trigger of several key alarmins and AMPs known to possess potent anti-Candida functions. We also find extracellular ATP to be an important activator of candidalysin-induced epithelial signalling responses, namely epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and MAPK signalling, which mediate downstream innate immunity during oral epithelial infection. The data provide novel mechanistic insight into the induction of multiple key alarmins and AMPs, important for antifungal defences against C. albicans.
Project description:The human fungal pathogen Candida albicans is the major etiological agent of vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC). Despite this fact, other non-albicans Candida (NAC) species have frequently been reported, as well. Despite their presence in the vaginal environment, little is known about their capacities to elicit immune responses classically associated with C. albicans-mediated immunopathology, including neutrophil recruitment and proinflammatory cytokine signaling. Therefore, using a combination of in vitro and in vivo approaches, we undertook a comparative analysis to determine whether a representative panel of NAC species could colonize, induce immunopathological markers, or cause damage at the vaginal mucosa. Using a murine model of VVC, C. albicans was found to induce robust immunopathology (neutrophils and interleukin 1β [IL-1β]) and elicit mucosal damage. However, all the NAC species tested (including C. dubliniensis, C. tropicalis, C. parapsilosis, C. krusei, C. glabrata, and C. auris) induced significantly less damage and neutrophil recruitment than C. albicans, despite achieving similar early colonization levels. These results largely correlated with a notable lack of ability by the NAC species (including C. dubliniensis and C. tropicalis) to form hyphae both in vitro and in vivo Furthermore, both C. dubliniensis and C. tropicalis induced significantly less expression of the ECE1 gene encoding candidalysin, a key fungal virulence determinant driving VVC immunopathology. In order to determine the relative capacities of these species to elicit inflammasome-dependent IL-1β release, both wild-type and NLRP3-/- THP-1 cells were challenged in vitro While most species tested elicited only modest amounts of IL-1β, challenge with C. albicans led to significantly elevated levels that were largely NLRP3 dependent. Collectively, our findings demonstrate that although NAC species are increasingly reported as causative agents of VVC, C. albicans appears to be exceedingly vaginopathogenic, exhibiting robust immunopathology, hypha formation, and candidalysin expression. Thus, this study provides mechanistic insight into why C. albicans is overwhelmingly the major pathogen reported during VVC.
Project description:Angiogenesis mediated by proteins such as Fibroblast Growth Factor-2 (FGF-2) is a vital component of normal physiological processes and has also been implicated in contributing to the disease state associated with various microbial infections. Previous studies by our group and others have shown that Candida albicans, a common agent of candidiasis, induces FGF-2 secretion in vitro and angiogenesis in brains and kidneys during systemic infections. However, the underlying mechanism(s) via which the fungus increases FGF-2 production and the role(s) that FGF-2/angiogenesis plays in C. albicans disease remain unknown. Here we show, for the first time, that C. albicans hyphae (and not yeast cells) increase the FGF-2 response in human endothelial cells. Moreover, Candidalysin, a toxin secreted exclusively by C. albicans in the hyphal state, is required to induce this response. Our in vivo studies show that in the systemic C. albicans infection model, mice treated with FGF-2 exhibit significantly higher mortality rates when compared to untreated mice not given the angiogenic growth factor. Even treatment with fluconazole could not fully rescue infected animals that were administered FGF-2. Our data suggest that the increase of FGF-2 production/angiogenesis induced by Candidalysin contributes to the pathogenicity of C. albicans.
Project description:T helper 17 (Th17) cells play major roles in autoimmunity and bacterial infections, yet how T cell receptor (TCR) signaling affects Th17 cell differentiation is relatively unknown. We demonstrate that CD4(+) T cells lacking Itk, a tyrosine kinase required for full TCR-induced phospholipase C-gamma (PLC-gamma1) activation, exhibit decreased interleukin-17A (IL-17A) expression in vitro and in vivo, despite relatively normal expression of retinoic acid receptor-related orphan receptor-gammaT (ROR-gammaT) and IL-17F. IL-17A expression was rescued by pharmacologically induced Ca(2+) influx or constitutively activated nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT). Conversely, decreased TCR stimulation or calcineurin inhibition preferentially reduced IL-17A expression. We further found that the promoter of Il17a but not Il17f has a conserved NFAT binding site that bound NFATc1 in wild-type but not Itk-deficient cells, even though both exhibited open chromatin conformations. Finally, Itk(-/-) mice also showed differential regulation of IL-17A and IL-17F in vivo. Our results suggest that Itk specifically couples TCR signaling to Il17a expression and the differential regulation of Th17 cell cytokines through NFATc1.
Project description:The opportunistic fungal pathogen Candida albicans frequently causes diseases such as oropharyngeal candidiasis (OPC) in immunocompromised individuals. Although it is well appreciated that the cytokine IL-17 is crucial for protective immunity against OPC, the cellular source and the regulation of this cytokine during infection are still a matter of debate. Here, we directly visualized IL-17 production in the tongue of experimentally infected mice, thereby demonstrating that this key cytokine is expressed by three complementary subsets of CD90+ leukocytes: RAG-dependent ?? and ?? T cells, as well as RAG-independent ILCs. To determine the regulation of IL-17 production at the onset of OPC, we investigated in detail the myeloid compartment of the tongue and found a heterogeneous and dynamic mononuclear phagocyte (MNP) network in the infected tongue that consists of Zbtb46-Langerin- macrophages, Zbtb46+Langerin+ dendritic cells (DCs) and Ly6C+ inflammatory monocytes. Of those, the Langerin+ DC population stands out by its unique capacity to co-produce the cytokines IL-1?, IL-6 and IL-23, all of which promote IL-17 induction in response to C. albicans in the oral mucosa. The critical role of Langerin+ DCs for the innate IL-17 response was confirmed by depletion of this cellular subset in vivo, which compromised IL-17 induction during OPC. In conclusion, our work revealed key regulatory factors and their cellular sources of innate IL-17-dependent antifungal immunity in the oral mucosa.
Project description:Oropharyngeal candidiasis (OPC) is an opportunistic infection caused by Candida albicans. Despite its prevalence, little is known about C. albicans-specific immunity in the oral mucosa. Vaccines against Candida generate both T helper type 1 (Th1) and Th17 responses, and considerable evidence implicates interleukin (IL)-17 in immunity to OPC. However, IL-17 is also produced by innate immune cells that are remarkably similar to Th17 cells, expressing the same markers and localizing to similar mucosal sites. To date, the relative contribution(s) of Th1, Th17, and innate IL-17-producing cells in OPC have not been clearly defined. Here, we sought to determine the nature and function of adaptive T-cell responses to OPC, using a new recall infection model. Mice subjected to infection and re-challenge with Candida mounted a robust and stable antigen-specific IL-17 response in CD4+ but not CD8+ T cells. There was little evidence for Th1 or Th1/Th17 responses. The Th17 response promoted accelerated fungal clearance, and Th17 cells could confer protection in Rag1-/- mice upon adoptive transfer. Surprisingly, CD4 deficiency did not cause OPC but was instead associated with compensatory IL-17 production by Tc17 and CD3+CD4-CD8- cells. Therefore, classic CD4+Th17 cells protect from OPC but can be compensated by other IL-17-producing cells in CD4-deficient hosts.