Research ArticleHost-Pathogen Interactions

PTEN Directly Activates the Actin Depolymerization Factor Cofilin-1 During PGE2-Mediated Inhibition of Phagocytosis of Fungi

Sci. Signal.  07 Feb 2012:
Vol. 5, Issue 210, pp. ra12
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2002448

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Preventing Phagocytosis

The fungus Candida albicans is normally a commensal microbe found on mucosal surfaces, including those in the lung. However, C. albicans can cause systemic infections that are a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in immunocompromised individuals. A key innate immune response to C. albicans is its ingestion (phagocytosis) by macrophages, a process that requires polymerization of the actin cytoskeleton. Another component of the macrophage response to fungus is the production of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), a lipid mediator whose synthesis is initiated by cyclooxygenase (COX) enzymes. Serezani et al. found that infection of alveolar macrophages with C. albicans triggered the production of PGE2, which prevented polymerization of the actin cytoskeleton and inhibited phagocytosis of C. albicans by alveolar macrophages. The authors defined the signaling pathway involved. These results suggest that COX inhibitors, such as aspirin, which are in widespread clinical use, may stimulate innate immune responses. In addition, immunosuppression is associated with increased production of PGE2, which may help to explain how antifungal responses are attenuated in immunocompromised individuals.