Candida albicans produces an important virulence factor, the hypha-associated Ece1-derived secreted peptide toxin candidalysin, which is crucial for the establishment of mucosal and systemic infections. C. albicans has also long been known to be hemolytic, yet the hemolytic factor has not been clearly identified. Here, we show that candidalysin is the hemolytic factor of C. albicans. Its hemolytic activity is modulated by fragments of another Ece1 peptide, P7. Hemolysis by candidalysin can be neutralized by the purinergic receptor antagonist pyridoxal-phosphate-6-azophenyl-2',4'-disulfonic acid (PPADS). PPADS also affects candidalysin's ability to intercalate into synthetic membranes. We also describe the neutralization potential of two anti-candidalysin nanobodies, which are promising candidates for future anti-Candida therapy. This work provides evidence that the historically proposed hemolytic factor of C. albicans is in fact candidalysin and sheds more light on the complex roles of this toxin in C. albicans biology and pathogenicity.
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