The role of Candida albicans AP-1 protein against host derived ROS in in vivo models of infection

Virulence. 2013 Jan 1;4(1):67-76. doi: 10.4161/viru.22700.


Candida albicans is a major fungal pathogen of humans, causing mucosal infections that are difficult to eliminate and systemic infections that are often lethal primarily due to defects in the host's innate status. Here we demonstrate the utility of Caenorhabditis elegans, a model host to study innate immunity, by exploring the role of reactive oxygen species (ROS) as a critical innate response against C. albicans infections. Much like a human host, the nematode's innate immune response is activated to produce ROS in response to fungal infection. We use the C. albicans cap1 mutant, which is susceptible to ROS, as a tool to dissect this physiological innate immune response and show that cap1 mutants fail to cause disease and death, except in bli-3 mutant worms that are unable to produce ROS because of a defective NADPH oxidase. We further validate the ROS-mediated host defense mechanism in mammalian phagocytes by demonstrating that chemical inhibition of the NADPH oxidase in cultured macrophages enables the otherwise susceptible cap1 mutant to resists ROS-mediated phagolysis. Loss of CAP1 confers minimal attenuation of virulence in a disseminated mouse model, suggesting that CAP1-independent mechanisms contribute to pathogen survival in vivo. Our findings underscore a central theme in the process of infection-the intricate balance between the virulence strategies employed by C. albicans and the host's innate immune system and validates C. elegans as a simple model host to dissect this balance at the molecular level.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / immunology
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / microbiology
  • Candida albicans / drug effects
  • Candida albicans / genetics
  • Candida albicans / physiology*
  • Candidiasis / immunology
  • Candidiasis / microbiology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal*
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Phagocytes / immunology
  • Phagocytes / microbiology
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / toxicity*
  • Stress, Physiological*
  • Transcription Factor AP-1 / metabolism*
  • Virulence


  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Transcription Factor AP-1