Direct Inhibition of T-Cell Responses by the Cryptococcus Capsular Polysaccharide Glucuronoxylomannan
Yauch, Lauren E
Lam, Jennifer S
Levitz, Stuart M
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CitationYauch, Lauren E, Jennifer S Lam, Stuart M Levitz. "Direct Inhibition of T-Cell Responses by the Cryptococcus Capsular Polysaccharide Glucuronoxylomannan" PLoS Pathogens 2(11): e120. (2006)
The major virulence factor of the pathogenic fungi Cryptococcus neoformans and C. gattii is the capsule. Glucuronoxylomannan (GXM), the major component of the capsule, is a high-molecular-weight polysaccharide that is shed during cryptococcosis and can persist in patients after successful antifungal therapy. Due to the importance of T cells in the anticryptococcal response, we studied the effect of GXM on the ability of dendritic cells (DCs) to initiate a T-cell response. GXM inhibited the activation of cryptococcal mannoprotein-specific hybridoma T cells and the proliferation of OVA-specific OT-II T cells when murine bone marrow-derived DCs were used as antigen-presenting cells. Inhibition of OT-II T-cell proliferation was observed when either OVA protein or OVA323-339 peptide was used as antigen, indicating GXM did not merely prevent antigen uptake or processing. We found that DCs internalize GXM progressively over time; however, the suppressive effect did not require DCs, as GXM directly inhibited T-cell proliferation induced by anti-CD3 antibody, concanavalin A, or phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetate/ionomycin. Analysis of T-cell viability revealed that the reduced proliferation in the presence of GXM was not the result of increased cell death. GXM isolated from each of the four major cryptococcal serotypes inhibited the proliferation of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells stimulated with tetanus toxoid. Thus, we have defined a new mechanism by which GXM can impart virulence: direct inhibition of T-cell proliferation. In patients with cryptococcosis, this could impair optimal cell-mediated immune responses, thereby contributing to the persistence of cryptococcal infections. SynopsisInfections due to the pathogenic yeast Cryptococcus are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in persons with impaired T-cell functions, particularly those with AIDS. The major virulence factor of Cryptococcus is its capsule, which is composed primarily of the polysaccharide glucuronoxylomannan (GXM). The capsule not only surrounds the organism but also is shed during cryptococcosis. GXM is taken up by macrophages in vitro and in vivo; however, little is known about the interaction between GXM and dendritic cells, which are the most potent cells capable of activating T cells. Because of the importance of T cells in the anticryptococcal response, the authors investigated the effect of GXM on the ability of dendritic cells to initiate a T-cell response. They found the polysaccharide was internalized by dendritic cells and inhibited antigen-specific T-cell responses. Furthermore, GXM had a direct, inhibitory effect on T-cell proliferation, independent of the effect on dendritic cells. These findings may help explain the persistence of cryptococcal infections and suggest that GXM could be therapeutic in situations where suppression of T-cell responses is desired.