Evolution & adaptation in pathogenicity

“Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution” (T.Dobzhansky)

The host-pathogen interaction is no exception from this rule: while the pathogens adapt to the specific stresses and requirements inside their hosts, the hosts themselves are selected for best defense against damage done by these microorganisms. This evolutionary battle led to many astonishingly specific adaptations, from optimized nutrient uptake systems to our adaptive immunity.

We are interested in the mechanisms responsible for the adaptation of Candida albicans and C. glabrata, the two most important opportunistic pathogens among the Candida species, during the infection process. It is known for both species that they exhibit phenotypic and genotypic plasticity and can therefore react to changing environments by generating new phenotypes. For example, microevolution has clearly been demonstrated for the acquisition of high levels of antifungal drug resistance. In our laboratory, we used serial passage experiments to monitor the in vitro adaptation of fungi to macrophages, the “big eaters” of the immune system. We used two models: a wild type strain of C. glabrata and a hyphal-deficient C. albicans strain, which cannot escape from macrophages (as C. albicans normally does). In both cases we observed a striking change in the morphology of the strains after a series of co-culture passages. Usually, both strains grow as single cells, but during the microevolution experiment this growth form switched to a more filamentous form. Interestingly, the ability to form filaments is a well characterized virulence trait in wild type C. albicans, which was recreated here. We characterized the evolved strains in more detail using in vitro and in vivo experiments to investigate the impact of this phenotypic alteration on the pathogenicity of the strains. To determine the underlying genetic mechanisms, which cause the phenotypic alterations, we used different molecular techniques like microarrays, DNA and RNA sequencing. An in vivo adaptation experiment of C. albicans to the specific environment in the kidney complements our investigations into the adaptability of pathogenic yeasts in the host.

Staff

Sascha Brunke
Mathias Jansen
Theresa Rothe
Verena Trümper
Raghav Vij

Publications

Ruben S, Garbe E, Mogavero S, Albrecht-Eckardt D, Hellwig D, Häder A, Krüger T, Gerth K, Jacobsen ID, Elshafee O, Brunke S, Hünniger K, Kniemeyer O, Brakhage AA, Morschhäuser J, Hube B, Vylkova S, Kurzai O, Martin R (2020) Ahr1 and Tup1 contribute to the transcriptional control of virulence-associated genes in Candida albicans. mBio 11(2), e00206-20.
Seelbinder B, Chen J, Brunke S, Vazquez-Uribe R, Santhanam R, Meyer AC, de Oliveira Lino FS, Chan KF, Loos D, Imamovic L, Tsang CC, Lam RP, Sridhar S, Kang K, Hube B, Woo PCY, Sommer MOA, Panagiotou G (2020) Antibiotics create a shift from mutualism to competition in human gut communities with a longer-lasting impact on fungi than bacteria. Microbiome 8(1), 133.
Arastehfar A, Boekhout T, Butler G, De Cesare GB, Dolk E, Gabaldón T, Hafez A, Hube B, Hagen F, Hovhannisyan H, Iracane E, Kostrzewa M, Lackner M, Lass-Flörl C, Llorens C, Mixão V, Munro C, Oliveira-Pacheco J, Pekmezovic M, Pérez-Hansen A, Sanchez AR, Sauer FM, Sparbier K, Stavrou AA, Vaneechoutte M, Vatanshenassan M (2019) Recent trends in molecular diagnostics of yeast infections: from PCR to NGS. FEMS Microbiol Rev 43(5), 517-547. (Review)
Bacher P, Hohnstein T, Beerbaum E, Röcker M, Blango MG, Kaufmann S, Röhmel J, Eschenhagen P, Grehn C, Seidel K, Rickerts V, Lozza L, Stervbo U, Nienen M, Babel N, Milleck J, Assenmacher M, Cornely OA, Ziegler M, Wisplinghoff H, Heine G, Worm M, Siegmund B, Maul J, Creutz P, Tabeling C, Ruwwe-Glösenkamp C, Sander LE, Knosalla C, Brunke S, Hube B, Kniemeyer O, Brakhage AA, Schwarz C, Scheffold A (2019) Human anti-fungal Th17 immunity and pathology rely on cross-reactivity against Candida albicans. Cell 176(6), 1340-1355.
Chu H, Duan Y, Lang S, Jiang L, Wang Y, Llorente C, Liu J, Mogavero S, Bosques-Padilla F, Abraldes JG, Vargas V, Tu XM, Yang L, Hou X, Hube B, Stärkel P, Schnabl B (2019) The Candida albicans exotoxin Candidalysin promotes alcohol-associated liver disease. J Hepatol 72(3), 391-400.
Correia I, Prieto D, Román E, Wilson D, Hube B, Alonso-Monge R, Pla J (2019) Cooperative role of MAPK pathways in the interaction of Candida albicans with the host Epithelium. Microorganisms 8(1), 48.
Fischer D, Gessner G, Fill TP, Barnett R, Tron K, Dornblut K, Kloss F, Stallforth P, Hube B, Heinemann SH, Hertweck C, Scherlach K, Brunke S (2019) Disruption of membrane integrity by the bacteria-derived antifungal jagaricin. Antimicrob Agents Chemother 63(9), e00707-19.
Gimeno-Valiente F, Riffo-Campos ÁL, Vallet-Sánchez A, Siscar-Lewin S, Gambardella V, Tarazona N, Cervantes A, Franco L, Castillo J, López-Rodas G (2019) ZNF518B gene up-regulation promotes dissemination of tumour cells and is governed by epigenetic mechanisms in colorectal cancer. Sci Rep 9(1), 9339.
Ho J, Yang X, Nikou SA, Kichik N, Donkin A, Ponde NO, Richardson JP, Gratacap RL, Archambault LS, Zwirner CP, Murciano C, Henley-Smith R, Thavaraj S, Tynan CJ, Gaffen SL, Hube B, Wheeler RT, Moyes DL, Naglik JR (2019) Candidalysin activates innate epithelial immune responses via epidermal growth factor receptor. Nat Commun 10(1), 2297.
Ikonomova SP, Moghaddam-Taaheri P, Wang Y, Doolin MT, Stroka KM, Hube B, Karlsson AJ (2019) Effects of histatin 5 modifications on antifungal activity and kinetics of proteolysis. Protein Sci 29(2), 480-493.