The Candida albicans toxin candidalysin mediates distinct epithelial inflammatory responses through p38 and EGFR-ERK pathways

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The fungal pathogen Candida albicans secretes the peptide toxin candidalysin, which damages epithelial cells and drives an innate inflammatory response mediated by the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways and the transcription factor c-Fos. In cultured oral epithelial cells, candidalysin activated the MAPK p38, which resulted in heat shock protein 27 (Hsp27) activation, IL-6 release, and EGFR phosphorylation without affecting the induction of c-Fos. p38 activation was not triggered by EGFR but by two nonredundant pathways involving MAPK kinases (MKKs) and the kinase Src, which differentially controlled p38 signaling outputs. Whereas MKKs mainly promoted p38-dependent release of IL-6, Src promoted p38-mediated phosphorylation of EGFR in a ligand-independent fashion. In parallel, candidalysin also activated the EGFR-ERK pathway in a ligand-dependent manner, resulting in c-Fos activation and release of the neutrophil-activating chemokines G-CSF and GM-CSF. In mice, early clearance events of oral C. albicans infection required p38 but not c-Fos. These findings delineate how candidalysin activates the pathways downstream of the MAPKs p38 and ERK that differentially contribute to immune activation during C. albicans infection.

Journal details

Volume 15
Issue number 728
Pages eabj6915
Available online
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