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Gliotoxin promotes Aspergillus fumigatus internalization into type II human pneumocyte A549 cells by inducing host phospholipase D activation

  • Jia, Xiaodong
  • Chen, Fangyan
  • Pan, Weihua
  • Yu, Rentao
  • Tian, Shuguang
  • Han, Gaige
  • Fang, Haiqin
  • Wang, Shuo
  • Zhao, Jingya
  • Li, Xianping
  • Zheng, Dongyu
  • Tao, Sha
  • Liao, Wanqing
  • Han, Xuelin
  • Han, Li1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
  • 1 Department for Hospital Infection Control & Research
  • 2 Institute of Disease Control & Prevention of PLA
  • 3 Academy of Military Medical Sciences
  • 4 Shanghai Key Laboratory of Molecular Mycology
  • 5 Department of Dermatology
  • 6 Shanghai Changzheng Hospital
  • 7 Second Military Medical University
  • 8 Patent Examination Cooperation Center of the Patent Office
Published Article
Microbes and Infection
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2014
Accepted Date
Mar 04, 2014
DOI: 10.1016/j.micinf.2014.03.001


The internalization of Aspergillus fumigatus into lung epithelial cells is critical for the infection process in the host. Gliotoxin is the most potent toxin produced by A. fumigatus. However, its role in A. fumigatus internalization into the lung epithelial cells is still largely unknown. In the present study, the deletion of the gliP gene regulating the production of gliotoxin in A. fumigatus suppressed the internalization of conidia into the A549 lung epithelial cells, and this suppression could be rescued by the exogenous addition of gliotoxin. At lower concentrations, gliotoxin enhanced the internalization of the conidia of A. fumigatus into A549 cells; in contrast, it inhibited the phagocytosis of J774 macrophages in a dose-dependent manner. Under a concentration of 100 ng/ml, gliotoxin had no effect on A549 cell viability but attenuated ROS production in a dose-dependent manner. Gliotoxin significantly stimulated the phospholipase D activity in the A549 cells at a concentration of 50 ng/ml. This stimulation was blocked by the pretreatment of host cells with PLD1- but not PLD2-specific inhibitor. Morphological cell changes induced by gliotoxin were observed in the A549 cells accompanying with obvious actin cytoskeleton rearrangement and a moderate alteration of phospholipase D distribution. Our data indicated that gliotoxin might be responsible for modulating the A. fumigatus internalization into epithelial cells through phospholipase D1 activation and actin cytoskeleton rearrangement.

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