Inactivation of α1-proteinase inhibitor by Candida albicans aspartic proteases favors the epithelial and endothelial cell colonization in the presence of neutrophil extracellular traps.
AbstractCandida albicans, a causative agent of opportunistic fungal infections in immunocompromised patients, uses ten secreted aspartic proteases (SAPs) to deregulate the homeostasis of the host organism on many levels. One of these deregulation mechanisms involves a SAP-dependent disturbance of the control over proteolytic enzymes of the host by a system of dedicated proteinase inhibitors, with one important example being the neutrophil elastase and alpha1-proteinase inhibitor (A1PI). In this study, we found that soluble SAPs 1-4 and the cell membrane-anchored SAP9 efficiently cleaved A1PI, with the major cleavage points located at the C-terminal part of A1PI in a close vicinity to the reactive-site loop that plays a critical role in the inhibition mechanism. Elastase is released by neutrophils to the environment during fungal infection through two major processes, a degranulation or formation of neutrophil extracellular traps (NET). Both, free and NET-embedded elastase forms, were found to be controlled by A1PI. A local acidosis, resulting from the neutrophil activity at the infection sites, favors A1PI degradation by SAPs. The deregulation of NET-connected elastase affected a NET-dependent damage of epithelial and endothelial cells, resulting in the increased susceptibility of these host cells to candidal colonization. Moreover, the SAP-catalyzed cleavage of A1PI was found to decrease its binding affinity to a proinflammatory cytokine, interleukin-8. The findings presented here suggest a novel strategy used by C. albicans for the colonization of host tissues and overcoming the host defense.
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