Interactions between fungal hyaluronic acid and host CD44 promote internalization by recruiting host autophagy proteins to forming phagosomes Academic Article uri icon


  • Phagocytosis and autophagy play critical roles in immune defense. The human fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans (Cn) subverts host autophagy-initiation complex (AIC)-related proteins, to promote its phagocytosis and intracellular parasitism of host cells. The mechanisms by which the pathogen engages host AIC-related proteins remain obscure. Here, we show that the recruitment of host AIC proteins to forming phagosomes is dependent upon the activity of CD44, a host cell surface receptor that engages fungal hyaluronic acid (HA). This interaction elevates intracellular Ca2+ concentrations and activates CaMKKβ and its downstream target AMPKα, which results in activation of ULK1 and the recruitment of AIC components. Moreover, we demonstrate that HA-coated beads efficiently recruit AIC components to phagosomes and CD44 interacts with AIC components. Taken together, these findings show that fungal HA plays a critical role in directing the internalization and productive intracellular membrane trafficking of a fungal pathogen of global importance.

author list (cited authors)

  • Ding, S., Yang, J., Feng, X., Pandey, A., Barhoumi, R., Zhang, D., ... de Figueiredo, P.

publication date

  • January 1, 2021 11:11 AM