Automated analysis of cryptococcal macrophage parasitism using GFP-tagged cryptococci

PLoS One. 2010 Dec 31;5(12):e15968. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0015968.


The human fungal pathogens Cryptococcus neoformans and C. gattii cause life-threatening infections of the central nervous system. One of the major characteristics of cryptococcal disease is the ability of the pathogen to parasitise upon phagocytic immune effector cells, a phenomenon that correlates strongly with virulence in rodent models of infection. Despite the importance of phagocyte/Cryptococcus interactions to disease progression, current methods for assaying virulence in the macrophage system are both time consuming and low throughput. Here, we introduce the first stable and fully characterised GFP-expressing derivatives of two widely used cryptococcal strains: C. neoformans serotype A type strain H99 and C. gattii serotype B type strain R265. Both strains show unaltered responses to environmental and host stress conditions and no deficiency in virulence in the macrophage model system. In addition, we report the development of a method to effectively and rapidly investigate macrophage parasitism by flow cytometry, a technique that preserves the accuracy of current approaches but offers a four-fold improvement in speed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Automation
  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Line
  • Cryptococcus / metabolism*
  • Flow Cytometry / methods
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / parasitology*
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Confocal / methods
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phagocytes / parasitology
  • Species Specificity
  • Virulence


  • Green Fluorescent Proteins