Fungi can shield surface pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) for evading host immune attack. The most common and opportunistic human pathogen, Candida albicans, can shield β-(1 3)-glucan on the cell wall, one of the major PAMPs, to avoid host phagocyte Dectin-1 recognition. The way to interfere in the shielding process for more effective antifungal defense is not well established. In this study, we found that deletion of the C. albicans GPI7 gene, which was responsible for adding ethanolaminephosphate to the second mannose in glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) biosynthesis, could block the attachment of most GPI-anchored cell wall proteins (GPI-CWPs) to the cell wall and subsequently unmask the concealed β-(1,3)-glucan. Neutrophils could kill the uncloaked gpi7 mutant more efficiently with an augmented respiratory burst. The gpi7 mutant also stimulated Dectin-1-dependent immune responses of macrophages, including activation of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways and secretion of specific cytokines, such as tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), interleukin 6 (IL-6), and IL-12p40. Furthermore, the gpi7 null mutant could induce an enhanced inflammatory response through promoting significant recruitment of neutrophils and monocytes and could stimulate stronger Th1 and Th17 cell responses to fungal infections in vivo. These in vivo phenotypes also were Dectin-1 dependent. Thus, we assume that GPI-CWPs are involved in the immune mechanism of C. albicans escaping from host recognition by Dectin-1. Our studies also indicate that the blockage of GPI anchor synthesis is a strategy to inhibit C. albicans evading host recognition.
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