PLB-985 neutrophil-like cells release antifungal extracellular vesicles against the human-pathogenic fungus Aspergillus fumigatus.
Fungal infections remain a major global concern. Emerging fungal pathogens and increasing rates of resistance mean that additional research efforts and resources must be allocated to advancing our understanding of fungal pathogenesis and developing new therapeutic interventions. Neutrophilic granulocytes are a major cell type involved in protection against the important fungal pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus, where they employ numerous defense mechanisms, including production of antimicrobial extracellular vesicles. A major draw-back to work with neutrophils is the lack of a suitable cell line system for the study of fungal pathogenesis. To address this problem, we assessed the feasibility of using differentiated PLB-985 neutrophil-like cells as an in vitro model to study A. fumigatus infection. We find that dimethylformamide-differentiated PLB-985 cells provide a useful recapitulation of many aspects of A. fumigatus interactions with primary human polymorphonuclear leukocytes. We find that differentiated PLB-985 cells phagocytose fungal conidia and acidify conidia-containing phagolysosomes similar to primary neutrophils, release neutrophil extracellular traps, and also produce antifungal extracellular vesicles in response to infection. In addition, we provide an improved method for the isolation of extracellular vesicles produced during infection by employing a size-exclusion chromatography-based approach. Advanced LC-MS/MS proteomics revealed an enrichment of extracellular vesicle marker proteins and a decrease of cytoplasmic proteins in extracellular vesicles isolated using this improved method. Ultimately, we find that differentiated PLB-985 cells can serve as a genetically tractable model to study many aspects of A. fumigatus pathogenesis.