The Adaptor Protein CARD9 Protects against Colon Cancer by Restricting Mycobiota-Mediated Expansion of Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells

Immunity. 2018 Sep 18;49(3):504-514.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2018.08.018.


The adaptor protein CARD9 links detection of fungi by surface receptors to the activation of the NF-κB pathway. Mice deficient in CARD9 exhibit dysbiosis and are more susceptible to colitis. Here we examined the impact of Card9 deficiency in the development of colitis-associated colon cancer (CAC). Treatment of Card9-/- mice with AOM-DSS resulted in increased tumor loads as compared to WT mice and in the accumulation of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) in tumor tissue. The impaired fungicidal functions of Card9-/- macrophages led to increased fungal loads and variation in the overall composition of the intestinal mycobiota, with a notable increase in C. tropicalis. Bone marrow cells incubated with C. tropicalis exhibited MDSC features and suppressive functions. Fluconazole treatment suppressed CAC in Card9-/- mice and was associated with decreased MDSC accumulation. The frequency of MDSCs in tumor tissues of colon cancer patients correlated positively with fungal burden, pointing to the relevance of this regulatory axis in human disease.

Keywords: Card9; MDSCs; colon cancer; mycobiota.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CARD Signaling Adaptor Proteins / genetics
  • CARD Signaling Adaptor Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Colitis / chemically induced
  • Colitis / genetics
  • Colitis / immunology*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Colonic Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Dysbiosis / genetics
  • Dysbiosis / immunology*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / genetics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells / microbiology
  • Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells / physiology*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics


  • CARD Signaling Adaptor Proteins
  • Card9 protein, mouse
  • IFNG protein, mouse
  • Interferon-gamma