Aspergillus is a medically important fungal genus that causes a life-threatening infection known as aspergillosis in immunocompromised patients. β-1,3-Glucan is detected in the plasma of patients with aspergillosis and appears to be useful for the diagnosis of aspergillosis. In this study, we cultured Aspergillus spp. in a chemically defined liquid medium and prepared an Aspergillus water-soluble fraction (ASWS) from the culture supernatants. ASWS was found to be primarily composed of polysaccharides and proteins. Nuclear magnetic resonance analysis suggested that ASWS is a complex carbohydrate, consisting of α-1,3-glucan, β-1,3-glucan, galactomannan, and protein. The ASWS from Aspergillus fumigatus showed limulus factor G activity, whereas zymolyase-treated ASWS did not. ASWS was eliminated from the blood more rapidly than Aspergillus solubilized cell wall β-glucan. We analyzed the reactivity of human immunoglobulin towards ASWS by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Anti-ASWS antibodies were detected in human sera, with titers differing among individuals. This study demonstrated that the ASWS corresponds to the limulus factor G-activating substance found in the blood of patients with aspergillosis.
The development of effective drugs against fungal diseases involves performing infection experiments in animals to evaluate candidate therapeutic compounds. Cryptococcus neoformans is a pathogenic fungus that causes deep mycosis, resulting in respiratory illness and meningitis. Here we describe a silkworm system established to evaluate the safety and efficacy of therapeutic drugs against infection by Cryptococcus neoformans and the advantages of this system over other animal models. The silkworm assay system has two major advantages: 1) silkworms are less expensive to rear and their use is less problematic than that of mammals in terms of animal welfare, and 2) in vivo screenings for identifying candidate drugs can be easily performed using a large number of silkworms. The pharmacokinetics of compounds are consistent between silkworms and mammals. Moreover, the ED50 values of antibiotics are concordant between mammalian and silkworm infection models. Furthermore, the body size of silkworms makes them easy to handle in experimental procedures compared with other invertebrate infectious experimental systems, and accurate amounts of pathogens and chemicals can be injected fairly easily. These advantages of silkworms as a host animal make them useful for screening candidate drugs for cryptococcosis.
Surface antigen protein 2 (Csa2) is a member of the Candida albicans Common in Fungal Extracellular Membranes (CFEM) protein superfamily. We previously established its role in iron acquisition in C. albicans. However, the other roles of Csa2 remain unknown. Here, we compared growth, morphological transition, and biofilm formation among wild-type, Csa2-mutant, and complemented strains of C. albicans. Deletion of the Csa2 gene resulted in smaller and reduced colony growth, significant attenuation of the dimorphic transition under serum-inducing conditions, and reduced biofilm formation; complementation restored these levels to those of the wild-type. Our findings demonstrated that Csa2 participated in yeast-to-hyphae morphological switching under serum-inducing conditions and contributed to the biofilm formation of C. albicans. This work, therefore, provides novel insights into the potential roles of Csa2 in virulence of C. albicans.