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PLoS Pathog. 2014 Mar 13;10(3):e1003995. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1003995. eCollection 2014 Mar.

Modulation of phagosomal pH by Candida albicans promotes hyphal morphogenesis and requires Stp2p, a regulator of amino acid transport.

Author information

1
Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, The University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston, Texas, United States of America.

Abstract

Candida albicans, the most important fungal pathogen of humans, has a unique interaction with macrophages in which phagocytosis induces a switch from the yeast to hyphal form, allowing it to escape by rupturing the immune cell. While a variety of factors induce this switch in vitro, including neutral pH, it is not clear what triggers morphogenesis within the macrophage where the acidic environment should inhibit this transition. In vitro, C. albicans grown in similar conditions in which amino acids are the primary carbon source generate large quantities of ammonia to raise the extracellular pH and induce the hyphal switch. We show here that C. albicans cells neutralize the macrophage phagosome and that neutral pH is a key inducer of germination in phagocytosed cells by using a mutant lacking STP2, a transcription factor that regulates the expression of multiple amino acid permeases, that is completely deficient in alkalinization in vitro. Phagocytosed stp2Δ mutant cells showed significant reduction in hypha formation and escaped from macrophages less readily compared to wild type cells; as a result stp2Δ mutant cells were killed at a higher rate and caused less damage to RAW264.7 macrophages. Stp2p-regulated import leads to alkalinization of the phagosome, since the majority of the wild type cells fail to co-localize with acidophilic dyes, whereas the stp2Δ mutant cells were located in acidic phagosomes. Furthermore, stp2Δ mutant cells were able to form hyphae and escape from neutral phagosomes, indicating that the survival defect in these cells was pH dependent. Finally, these defects are reflected in an attenuation of virulence in a mouse model of disseminated candidiasis. Altogether our results suggest that C. albicans utilizes amino acids to promote neutralization of the phagosomal pH, hyphal morphogenesis, and escape from macrophages.

PMID:
24626429
PMCID:
PMC3953444
DOI:
10.1371/journal.ppat.1003995
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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