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J Biol Chem. 2011 Oct 7;286(40):34761-9. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.219378. Epub 2011 Jun 21.

Invasion of Cryptococcus neoformans into human brain microvascular endothelial cells is mediated through the lipid rafts-endocytic pathway via the dual specificity tyrosine phosphorylation-regulated kinase 3 (DYRK3).

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Saban Research Institute, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90027, USA.


Cryptococcus neoformans is a neurotropic fungal pathogen, which provokes the onset of devastating meningoencephalitis. We used human brain microvascular endothelial cells (HBMEC) as the in vitro model to investigate how C. neoformans traverses across the blood-brain barrier. In this study, we present several lines of evidence indicating that C. neoformans invasion is mediated through the endocytic pathway via lipid rafts. Human CD44 molecules from lipid rafts can directly interact with hyaluronic acid, the C. neoformans ligand. Bikunin, which perturbs CD44 function in the lipid raft, can block C. neoformans adhesion and invasion of HBMEC. The lipid raft marker, ganglioside GM1, co-localizes with CD44 on the plasma membrane, and C. neoformans cells can adhere to the host cell in areas where GM1 is enriched. These findings suggest that C. neoformans entry takes place on the lipid rafts. Upon C. neoformans engagement, GM1 is internalized through vesicular structures to the nuclear membrane. This endocytic redistribution process is abolished by cytochalasin D, nocodazole, or anti-DYRK3 (dual specificity tyrosine-phosphorylation-regulated kinase 3) siRNA. Concomitantly, the knockdown of DYRK3 significantly reduces C. neoformans invasion across the HBMEC monolayer in vitro. Our data demonstrate that the lipid raft-dependent endocytosis process mediates C. neoformans internalization into HBMEC and that the CD44 protein of the hosts, cytoskeleton, and intracellular kinase-DYRK3 are involved in this process.

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