Date of Graduation


Document Type

Dissertation (PhD)

Program Affiliation

Cancer Biology

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Xin Lin, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Shao-Cong Sun, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Bryant G. Darnay, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Michael C. Lorenz, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Paul J. Chiao, Ph.D.


Candida albicans causes opportunistic fungal infections in humans and is a significant cause of mortality and morbidity in immune-compromised individuals. Dectin-2, a C-type lectin receptor, is required for recognition of C. albicans by innate immune cells and is required for initiation of the anti-fungal immune response. We set out to identify components of the intracellular signaling cascade downstream of Dectin-2 activation in macrophages and to understand their importance in mediating the immune response to C. albicans in vivo. Using macrophages derived from Phospholipase-C-gamma 1 and 2 (PLCγ1and PLCγ2) knockout mice, we demonstrate that PLCγ2, but not PLCγ1, is required for activation of NF-κB and MAPK signaling pathways after C. albicans stimulation, resulting in impaired production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and reactive oxygen species. PLCγ2-deficient mice are highly susceptible to infections with C. albicans, indicating the importance of this pathway to the anti-fungal immune response. TAK1 and TRAF6 are critical nodes in NF-κB and MAPK activation downstream of immune surveillance and may be critical to the signaling cascade initiated by C-type lectin receptors in response to C. albicans. Macrophages derived from both TAK1 and TRAF6-deficient mice were unable to activate NF-κB and MAPK and consequently failed to produce inflammatory cytokines characteristic of the response to C. albicans. In this work we have identified PLCγ2, TAK1 and TRAF6 as components of a signaling cascade downstream of C. albicans recognition by C-type lectin receptors and as critical mediators of the anti-fungal immune response. A mechanistic understanding of the host immune response to C. albicans is important for the development of anti-fungal therapeutics and in understanding risk-factors determining susceptibility to C. albicans infection.



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