ZFIN ID: ZDB-PUB-180826-2
An Adult Zebrafish Model Reveals that Mucormycosis Induces Apoptosis of Infected Macrophages
López-Muñoz, A., Nicolás, F.E., García-Moreno, D., Pérez-Oliva, A.B., Navarro-Mendoza, M.I., Hernández-Oñate, M.A., Herrera-Estrella, A., Torres-Martínez, S., Ruiz-Vázquez, R.M., Garre, V., Mulero, V.
Mucormycosis is a life-threatening fungal infection caused by various ubiquitous filamentous fungi of the Mucorales order, although Rhizopus spp. and Mucor spp. are the most prevalent causal agents. The limited therapeutic options available together with a rapid progression of the infection and a difficult early diagnosis produce high mortality. Here, we developed an adult zebrafish model of Mucor circinelloides infection which allowed us to confirm the link between sporangiospore size and virulence. Transcriptomic studies revealed a local, strong inflammatory response of the host elicited after sporangiospore germination and mycelial tissue invasion, while avirulent and UV-killed sporangiospores failed to induce inflammation and were rapidly cleared. Of the 857 genes modulated by the infection, those encoding cytokines, complement factors, peptidoglycan recognition proteins, and iron acquisition are particularly interesting. Furthermore, neutrophils and macrophages were similarly recruited independently of sporangiospore virulence and viability, which results in a robust depletion of both cell types in the hematopoietic compartment. Strikingly, our model also reveals for the first time the ability of mucormycosis to induce the apoptosis of recruited macrophages but not neutrophils. The induction of macrophage apoptosis, therefore, might represent a key virulence mechanism of these fungal pathogens, providing novel targets for therapeutic intervention in this lethal infection.