Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 28606355
Fungal Biol 2017 Jun - Jul;121(6-7):602-614
Cryptococcus neoformans is an environmental fungus that can cause lethal meningoencephalitis in immunocompromised individuals. The mechanisms by which environmental microbes become pathogenic to mammals are still obscure, but different studies suggest that fungal virulence evolved from selection imposed by environmental predators. The soil-living Acanthamoeba castellanii is a well-known predator of C. neoformans. In this work, we evaluated the participation of C. neoformans virulence-associated structures in the interaction of fungal cells with A. castellanii. Fungal extracellular vesicles (EVs) and the polysaccharide glucuronoxylomannan (GXM) were internalized by A. castellanii with no impact on the viability of amoebal cells. EVs, but not free GXM, modulated antifungal properties of A. castellanii by inducing enhanced yeast survival. Phagocytosis of C. neoformans by amoebal cells and the pathogenic potential in a Galleria mellonella model were not affected by EVs, but previous interactions with A. castellanii rendered fungal cells more efficient in killing this invertebrate host. This observation was apparently associated with marked amoeba-induced changes in surface architecture and increased resistance to both oxygen- and nitrogen-derived molecular species. Our results indicate that multiple components with the potential to impact pathogenesis are involved in C. neoformans environmental interactions.