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Direct cell-to-cell spread of a pathogeneic yeast

Ma, Hansong and Croudace, Joanne E. and Lammas, David A. and May, Robin C. (2007) Direct cell-to-cell spread of a pathogeneic yeast. BMC Immunology, 8 (15). ISSN 1471-2172

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Identification Number/DOI: doi:10.1186/1471-2172-8-15

Background
Cryptococcosis, a fatal fungal infection of the central nervous system, is one of the major killers of AIDS patients and other immunocompromised hosts. The causative agent, Cryptococcus neoformans, has a remarkable ability to 'hide' and proliferate within phagocytic cells of the human immune system. This intracellular phase is thought to underlie the ability of the pathogen to remain latent for long periods of time within infected individuals.

Results
We now report that Cryptococcus is able to undergo 'lateral transfer' between phagocytes, moving directly from infected to uninfected macrophages. This novel process was observed in both C. neoformans serotypes (A and D) and occurs in both immortalised cell lines and in primary human macrophages. Lateral transfer is independent of the initial route of uptake, since both serum-opsonised and antibody-opsonised C. neoformans are able to undergo direct cell-to-cell transfer.

Conclusion
We provide the first evidence for lateral transfer of a human fungal pathogen. This rare event may occur repeatedly during latent cryptococcal infections, thereby allowing the pathogen to remain concealed from the immune system and protecting it from exposure to antifungal agents.

Type of Work:Article
Date:16 August 2007 (Publication)
School/Faculty:Schools (1998 to 2008) > School of Biosciences
Department:Molecular Pathobiology, Biosciences, Division of Immunity and Infection, Medical School
Subjects:QR Microbiology
Institution:University of Birmingham
Copyright Holders:Ma et al.
ID Code:53
Refereed:YES
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