EphA2 Is a Neutrophil Receptor for Candida albicans that Stimulates Antifungal Activity during Oropharyngeal Infection

Cell Rep. 2019 Jul 9;28(2):423-433.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2019.06.020.


During oropharyngeal candidiasis (OPC), Candida albicans proliferates and invades the superficial oral epithelium. Ephrin type-A receptor 2 (EphA2) functions as an oral epithelial cell β-glucan receptor that triggers the production of proinflammatory mediators in response to fungal infection. Because EphA2 is also expressed by neutrophils, we investigated its role in neutrophil candidacidal activity during OPC. We found that EphA2 on stromal cells is required for the accumulation of phagocytes in the oral mucosa of mice with OPC. EphA2 on neutrophils is also central to host defense against OPC. The interaction of neutrophil EphA2 with serum-opsonized C. albicans yeast activates the MEK-ERK signaling pathway, leading to NADPH subunit p47phox site-specific phospho-priming. This priming increases intracellular reactive oxygen species production and enhances fungal killing. Thus, in neutrophils, EphA2 serves as a receptor for β-glucans that augments Fcγ receptor-mediated antifungal activity and controls early fungal proliferation during OPC.

Keywords: Candida albicans; EphA2; innate immunity; neutrophil; oropharyngeal candidiasis; pattern recognition receptor.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antifungal Agents / metabolism*
  • Candida albicans / pathogenicity*
  • Humans
  • Mouth Mucosa / pathology*
  • Mycoses / genetics*
  • Neutrophils / metabolism*
  • Receptor, EphA2 / metabolism*


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Receptor, EphA2