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mSphere. 2017 Dec 13;2(6). pii: e00555-17. doi: 10.1128/mSphere.00555-17. eCollection 2017 Nov-Dec.

The Human Gut Microbial Metabolome Modulates Fungal Growth via the TOR Signaling Pathway.

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Infectious Diseases Research Centre-CRI, CHU de Québec Research Center (CHUQ), Université Laval, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.
Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
Division of Infectious Diseases, Boston Children's Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Department of Microbiology, Infectious Disease and Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, Université Laval, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.


Candida albicans is well known as a major human fungal pathogen, but it is also a permanent resident of healthy gastrointestinal tracts. Recent studies have shown that the human gut microbial metabolome represents an interesting source of bioactive molecules with a significant degree of chemical diversity. Some of these bioactive molecules may have useful antivirulence activities. For instance, intestinal bacterial species belonging to the Lachnospiraceae family were found to secrete molecules that attenuate Salmonella pathogenicity and repress the expression of virulence genes. Here, we have investigated whether the microbial gut metabolome (GM) contains molecules that might promote the commensal lifestyle and/or inhibit the expression of virulence of C. albicans in the intestine. We found that metabolites from human feces inhibited the growth of C. albicans and other opportunistic yeasts. A genetic screen in C. albicans suggested that TOR is the molecular target of the antifungal molecule(s) of the GM. In addition, we found that the GM metabolites inhibit both C. albicans hyphal growth and the invasion of human enterocytes. The antigrowth and antivirulence activities were partially recapitulated by secretions from Roseburia spp. and Bacteroides ovatus strains, respectively. This study demonstrates that the antimicrobial activity of the GM can be extended to a eukaryotic pathogen, C. albicans, illuminating the antagonistic interkingdom interactions between a fungus and intestinal commensal bacteria. IMPORTANCECandida albicans is a natural component of the human microbiota but also an opportunistic pathogen that causes life-threatening infections. The human gastrointestinal tract is the main reservoir of C. albicans, from where systemic infections originate as a consequence of the disruption of the intestinal mucosal barrier. Recent studies provided convincing evidence that overgrowth of C. albicans and other related species in the gut is predominantly associated with chronic intestinal inflammatory bowel diseases. Here, we showed, for the first time, the antagonistic interkingdom interactions between C. albicans and common intestinal commensal bacteria. From a therapeutic perspective, administering a defined bacterial community, such as the one described here with anti-Candida activity, could provide potential therapeutic protection against gastrointestinal inflammatory diseases.


Candida albicans; TOR pathway; antifungal activity; gut microbial metabolome

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