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J Invest Dermatol. 1999 Mar;112(3):383-6.

In vivo expression and localization of Candida albicans secreted aspartyl proteinases during oral candidiasis in HIV-infected patients.

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Department of Dermatology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Germany.


Isoforms of aspartyl proteinase (Sap), which are encoded by at least nine related SAP genes, have been implicated to be a major virulence factor of the opportunistic yeast Candida albicans in experimental infections. Although it is generally assumed that proteinases are important for infections, detailed information on the pathogenetic role of Saps is still lacking. The same applies to the question whether the genes and corresponding isoforms of the enzyme are expressed during oral infection. For in vivo investigations, parts of the lesional oral epithelium were collected from three HIV-infected patients with oropharyngeal candidiasis. Immunoelectron microscopy was performed (pre- and post-embedding gold labeling with silver enhancement) using an anti-Sap murine monoclonal antibody directed against the gene products Sap1-3. It was possible to demonstrate expression of Sap antigens in each of the three samples of human oral candidiasis. This suggests that at least one of the genes SAP1-3 was expressed at the time of sample collection. Furthermore, a possible role of the enzymes during the interaction of yeast cells and mucosal cells is suggested: the majority of Sap antigens is secreted by those C. albicans cells that adhere directly to the epithelial surface. Sap immunoreactivity can be detected in particular at the site of close contact between C. albicans and epithelial cells, suggesting a pathogenetic role of the Saps in host-fungal interaction. Thus, inhibition of the enzyme might prove to be an important alternative in the prevention and treatment of candidiasis.

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