Phagocytosis of cryptococcus neoformans by, and nonlytic exocytosis from, Acanthamoeba castellanii

Cara J. Chrisman, Mauricio Alvarez, Arturo Casadevall

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Cryptococcus neoformans, an encapsulated, pathogenic yeast, is endowed with a variety of virulence factors, including a polysaccharide capsule. During mammalian infection, the outcome of the interaction between C. neoformans and macrophages is central to determining the fate of the host. Previous studies have shown similarities between the interaction of C. neoformans with macrophages and with amoebae, resulting in the proposal that fungal virulence for mammals originated from selection by amoeboid predators. In this study, we investigated the interaction of C. neoformans with the soil amoeba Acanthamoeba castellanii. Comparison of phagocytic efficiency of the wild type, nonencapsulated mutants, and complemented strains showed that the capsule was antiphagocytic for amoebae. Capsular enlargement was associated with a significant reduction in phagocytosis, suggesting that this phenomenon protects against ingestion by phagocytic predators. C. neoformans var. neoformans cells were observed to exit amoebae several hours after ingestion, in a process similar to the recently described nonlytic exocytosis from macrophages. Cryptococcal exocytosis from amoebae was dependent on the strain and on actin and required fungal viability. Additionally, the presence of a capsule was inversely correlated with the likelihood of extrusion in certain strains. In summary, nonlytic exocytosis from amoebae provide another parallel to observations in fungus-macrophage interactions. These results provide additional support for the notion that some mechanisms of virulence observed during mammalian infection originated, and were selected for, by environmental interactions

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6056-6062
Number of pages7
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Ecology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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