Global analysis of fungal morphology exposes mechanisms of host cell escape

Nat Commun. 2015 Mar 31;6:6741. doi: 10.1038/ncomms7741.


Developmental transitions between single-cell yeast and multicellular filaments underpin virulence of diverse fungal pathogens. For the leading human fungal pathogen Candida albicans, filamentation is thought to be required for immune cell escape via induction of an inflammatory programmed cell death. Here we perform a genome-scale analysis of C. albicans morphogenesis and identify 102 negative morphogenetic regulators and 872 positive regulators, highlighting key roles for ergosterol biosynthesis and N-linked glycosylation. We demonstrate that C. albicans filamentation is not required for escape from host immune cells; instead, macrophage pyroptosis is driven by fungal cell-wall remodelling and exposure of glycosylated proteins in response to the macrophage phagosome. The capacity of killed, previously phagocytized cells to drive macrophage lysis is also observed with the distantly related fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans. This study provides a global view of morphogenetic circuitry governing a key virulence trait, and illuminates a new mechanism by which fungi trigger host cell death.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Candida albicans / genetics*
  • Candida albicans / immunology
  • Candida albicans / ultrastructure
  • Cell Death
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Wall
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / genetics*
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / immunology
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / ultrastructure
  • Hyphae / genetics*
  • Hyphae / immunology
  • Immune Evasion / genetics*
  • Immune Evasion / immunology
  • Macrophages / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Interference
  • Morphogenesis / genetics*
  • Morphogenesis / immunology
  • Phagosomes
  • Pyroptosis / immunology*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / immunology
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / ultrastructure