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Eur J Immunol. 2003 Jul;33(7):1957-67.

The efficacy of complement-mediated phagocytosis of Cryptococcus neoformans is dependent on the location of C3 in the polysaccharide capsule and involves both direct and indirect C3-mediated interactions.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 1300 Morris Park Avenue, Bronx, NY 10461, USA.


Complement component 3 (C3) is the major opsonin for the pathogenic fungus Cryptococcus neoformans in the non-immune host. However, the efficiency of complement-mediated opsonization varies, depending on the strain, through mechanisms that are not understood. Analysis of complement-mediated phagocytosis for 12 strains grown in Sabouraud medium revealed that phagocytic indices were inversely correlated with capsule volume. In contrast, there was no correlation between phagocytic index and capsule volume for IgG1-opsonized cells. When capsule size was increased, the efficacy of complement-mediated phagocytosis decreased, whereas that of antibody-mediated phagocytosis increased. C3 localized inside the capsule and at the outer capsule edge for poorly phagocytozed and well-phagocytozed strains, respectively. Blocking experiments revealed that complement-mediated phagocytosis occurred through complement receptor 3 (CR3), without significant involvement of CR1 or CR4. Blocking experiments with antibodies to C3 did not completely abrogate yeast cell uptake, consistent with phagocytosis through glucuronoxylomannan-CR3 interactions. Our data explain how some large encapsulated cells avoid phagocytosis and suggest a novel strategy for immune evasion whereby a microbial capsule interferes with phagocytosis by modifying the location of C3 deposition.

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