J Microbiol. 2021 Jan;59(1):64-75. doi: 10.1007/s12275-021-0347-x. Epub 2020 Nov 17.
Aspergillus fumigatus is a well-known opportunistic pathogen that causes invasive aspergillosis (IA) infections with high mortality in immunosuppressed individuals. Morphogenesis, including hyphal growth, conidiation, and cell wall biosynthesis is crucial in A. fumigatus pathogenesis. Based on a previous random insertional mutagenesis library, we identified the putative polysaccharide synthase gene Afcps1 and its para-log Afcps2. Homologs of the cps gene are commonly found in the genomes of most fungal and some bacterial pathogens. Afcps1/cpsA is important in sporulation, cell wall composition, and virulence. However, the precise regulation patterns of cell wall integrity by Afcps1/cpsA and further effects on the immune response are poorly understood. Specifically, our in-depth study revealed that Afcps1 affects cell-wall stability, showing an increased resistance of ΔAfcps1 to the chitinmicrofibril destabilizing compound calcofluor white (CFW) and susceptibility of ΔAfcps1 to the β-(1,3)-glucan synthase inhibitor echinocandin caspofungin (CS). Additionally, deletion of Afcps2 had a normal sporulation phenotype but caused hypersensitivity to Na+ stress, CFW, and Congo red (CR). Specifically, quantitative analysis of cell wall composition using high-performance anion exchange chromatography-pulsed amperometric detector (HPAEC-PAD) analysis revealed that depletion of Afcps1 reduced cell wall glucan and chitin contents, which was consistent with the down-regulation of expression of the corresponding biosynthesis genes. Moreover, an elevated immune response stimulated by conidia of the ΔAfcps1 mutant in marrow-derived macrophages (BMMs) during phagocytosis was observed. Thus, our study provided new insights into the function of polysaccharide synthase Cps1, which is necessary for the maintenance of cell wall stability and the adaptation of conidia to the immune response of macrophages in A. fumigatus.