The macrophage-derived protein PTMA induces filamentation of the human fungal pathogen Candida albicans

Cell Rep. 2021 Aug 24;36(8):109584. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2021.109584.


Evasion of killing by immune cells is crucial for fungal survival in the host. For the human fungal pathogen Candida albicans, internalization by macrophages induces a transition from yeast to filaments that promotes macrophage death and fungal escape. Nutrient deprivation, alkaline pH, and oxidative stress have been implicated as triggers of intraphagosomal filamentation; however, the impact of other host-derived factors remained unknown. Here, we show that lysates prepared from macrophage-like cell lines and primary macrophages robustly induce C. albicans filamentation. Enzymatic treatment of lysate implicates a phosphorylated protein, and bioactivity-guided fractionation coupled to mass spectrometry identifies the immunomodulatory phosphoprotein PTMA as a candidate trigger of C. albicans filamentation. Immunoneutralization of PTMA within lysate abolishes its activity, strongly supporting PTMA as a filament-inducing component of macrophage lysate. Adding to the known repertoire of physical factors, this work implicates a host protein in the induction of C. albicans filamentation within immune cells.

Keywords: Candida albicans; PTMA; fungi; host-pathogen interaction; hyphae; macrophage; morphogenesis; phagosome; virulence.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Candida albicans / metabolism
  • Candida albicans / pathogenicity
  • Cell Line
  • Fungal Proteins / immunology*
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hyphae / metabolism
  • Hyphae / pathogenicity*
  • Immune Evasion / immunology
  • Macrophages / immunology*
  • Phagosomes / microbiology*


  • Fungal Proteins