Eicosanoid biosynthesis influences the virulence of Candida parapsilosis

Lipid mediators, derived from arachidonic acid metabolism, play an important role in immune regulation. The functions of bioactive eicosanoids range from modulating cytokine signaling and inflammasome formation to anti-inflammatory and pro-resolving activities. Human pathogenic fungi such as Candida albicans, Candida parapsilosis, Cryptococcus neoformans and Aspergillus fumigatus have been shown to produce such lipid mediators, associated with their virulence. To date, investigations into the molecular mechanisms of fungal eicosanoid biosynthesis in different species have revealed that several genes are associated with prostaglandin production. However, these routes remain uncharacterized in C. parapsilosis with early results suggesting it uses pathways distinct from those found in C. albicans. Therefore, we aimed to identify and characterize C. parapsilosis genes involved in eicosanoid biosynthesis. Following arachidonic acid treatment of C. parapsilosis cells, we identified several genes interfering with prostaglandin production. Out of the identified genes, homologues of a multi copper oxidase (FET3), an Acyl-CoA thiolase (POT1) and an Acyl-CoA oxidase (POX1-3) were found to play a significant role in prostaglandin synthesis. Furthermore, all three genes were confirmed to enhance C. parapsilosis pathogenicity, as the corresponding deletion mutants were cleared more efficiently by human macrophages and induced higher levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines. In addition, the mutants were less virulent than the wild-type strain in a mouse model of systemic infection. Taken together, we identified three genes that regulate eicosanoid biosynthesis in C. parapsilosis and impact the fungus’ virulence.