The fungus Cryptococcus neoformans is a major human pathogen with a remarkable intracellular survival strategy that includes exiting macrophages through non-lytic exocytosis (Vomocytosis) and transferring between macrophages (Dragotcytosis) by a mechanism that involves sequential events of non-lytic exocytosis and phagocytosis. Vomocytosis and Dragotcytosis are fungal driven processes, but their triggers are not understood. We hypothesized that the dynamics of Dragotcytosis could inherit the stochasticity of phagolysosome acidification and that Dragotcytosis was triggered by fungal cell stress. Consistent with this view, fungal cells involved in Dragotcytosis reside in phagolysosomes characterized by low pH and/or high oxidative stress. Using fluorescent microscopy, qPCR, live cell video microscopy, and fungal growth assays we found that the that mitigating pH or oxidative stress reduced Dragotcytosis frequency, whereas ROS susceptible mutants of C. neoformans underwent Dragotcytosis more frequently. Dragotcytosis initiation was linked to phagolysosomal pH, oxidative stresses, and macrophage polarization state. Dragotcytosis manifested stochastic dynamics thus paralleling the dynamics of phagosomal acidification, which correlated with the inhospitality of phagolysosomes in differently polarized macrophages. Hence, randomness in phagosomal acidification randomly created a population of inhospitable phagosomes where fungal cell stress triggered stochastic C. neoformans non-lytic exocytosis dynamics to escape a non-permissive intracellular macrophage environment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology