The majority of therapeutic strategies for mycosis require the protracted administration of antifungals, which can result in significant toxicities and have unacceptable failure rates. Hence, there is an urgent need for the development of improved therapeutic approaches, and monoclonal antibody-based drugs are potentially a powerful alternative to standard antifungals. To develop a broad antibody-like reagent against mycosis, wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) was linked to the effector Fc region of murine IgG2a. The resultant WGA-Fc displayed high affinity to purified chitin and bound efficiently to fungal cell walls, co-localizing with chitin, in patterns ranging from circular (Histoplasma capsulatum) to punctate (Cryptococcus neoformans) to labeling at the bud sites (Candida albicans and Saccharomyces cerevisiae). WGA-Fc directly inhibited fungal growth in standard cultures. WGA-Fc opsonization increased fungal phagocytosis, as well augmented the antifungal functions by macrophages. Prophylactic administration of WGA-Fc fully protected mice against H. capsulatum, correlating with a reduction in lung, spleen and liver fungal burdens. Administration of WGA-Fc also dramatically diminished pulmonary inflammation. Hence, the opsonic activity of WGA-Fc effectively modulates fungal cell recognition and promotes the elimination of fungal pathogens. Therefore, we propose WGA-Fc as a potential "pan-fungal" therapeutic that should be further developed for use against invasive mycoses.
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