Scientists here have found that certain substances from bacteria living in the human intestine cause the normally harmless Candida albicans fungus to become highly infectious.
This discovery by researchers at Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)'s Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) could possibly lead to the development of novel treatments for immunocompromised patients infected by the fungus.
The team of scientists, led by Associate Professor Wang Yue, a principal investigator at the IMCB, identified peptidoglycan (PGN) — a carbohydrate from bacteria — as a factor responsible for causing the conversion of the otherwise harmless C. albicans to its infectious form.
The research findings were recently published in the current journal Cell Host & Microbe.
Once in the infectious form, the fungus is able to invade surrounding tissues and escape destruction by the body's own immune cells. Since immunocompromised patients such as those with AIDS or those undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment are extremely susceptible to fungal-induced systemic infections, this finding offers an important clue to the basis of C. albicans infections.
After confirming the presence of PGN-derived molecules in human blood, the researchers discovered that the fungus is able to "sense" the presence of the same molecules, which are produced in abundance by bacteria residing in the gastrointestinal track. Earlier studies suggested that PGNs can enter the blood stream through the intestinal wall.
When direct binding of the PGN-derived molecules to a specific protein in C. albicans takes place, it triggers interactions and "sensing" processes that induce the fungus to start growing long, threadlike tubes called hyphae, hence signifying its conversion to the virulent, life-threatening form.
This is the first time that the identities of the "inducer" and that of its "sensor" in C. albicans have been clearly established.
Said Wang, who has been working on C. albicans for more than eight years, "It has been more than 50 years since human blood was first found to contain molecules that can strongly induce C. albicans infection. In spite of efforts by many laboratories worldwide, the identity of the 'inducer' remained elusive.
Thus, we are very excited about being able to help solve this long-held mystery. Finding the PGN sensor in C. albicans is also of great importance, because we can now develop anti-Candida therapies by blocking the sensory mechanism."
According to UNAIDS statistics, the AIDS pandemic claimed an estimated 2.1 million lives in 2007 alone. The latest findings by the Singapore researchers may provide insight for the development of potential anti-Candida therapy in patients suffering from fungal-induced systemic infections.
Previous research breakthroughs by the IMCB team included the discovery of the gene involved in triggering the infectious form of C. albicans, as well as the way in which the gene and its by-products facilitated the transformation process of the fungus.
Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH
Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences
20.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences