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Role of actin depolymerizing factor cofilin in Aspergillus fumigatus oxidative stress response and pathogenesis

Jia, Xiaodong, Zhang, Xi, Hu, Yingsong, Hu, Mandong, Tian, Shuguang, Han, Xuelin, Sun, Yansong, Han, Li
Current genetics 2018 v.64 no.3 pp. 619-634
Aspergillus fumigatus, Galleria mellonella, actin, aspergillosis, cell walls, chitin, epithelium, fungi, gene overexpression, genes, glycerol, humans, hydrogen peroxide, interleukin-8, lungs, mice, microfilaments, models, osmolarity, oxidative stress, pathogenesis, pathogens, phenotype, stress response, transcription (genetics), tumor necrosis factor-alpha, virulence
Aspergillus fumigatus is a major fungal pathogen that is responsible for approximately 90% of human aspergillosis. Cofilin is an actin depolymerizing factor that plays crucial roles in multiple cellular functions in many organisms. However, the functions of cofilin in A. fumigatus are still unknown. In this study, we constructed an A. fumigatus strain overexpressing cofilin (cofilin OE). The cofilin OE strain displayed a slightly different growth phenotype, significantly increased resistance against H₂O₂ and diamide, and increased activation of the high osmolarity glycerol pathway compared to the wild-type strain (WT). The cofilin OE strain internalized more efficiently into lung epithelial A549 cells, and induced increased transcription of inflammatory factors (MCP-1, TNF-α and IL-8) compared to WT. Cofilin overexpression also resulted in increased polysaccharides including β-1, 3-glucan and chitin, and increased transcription of genes related to oxidative stress responses and polysaccharide synthesis in A. fumigatus. However, the cofilin OE strain exhibited similar virulence to the wild-type strain in murine and Galleria mellonella infection models. These results demonstrated for the first time that cofilin, a regulator of actin cytoskeleton dynamics, might play a critical role in the regulation of oxidative stress responses and cell wall polysaccharide synthesis in A. fumigatus.