Candidalysin is a fungal peptide toxin critical for mucosal infection

David L. Moyes, Duncan Wilson, Jonathan P Richardson, Selene Mogavero, Shirley X Tang, Julia Wernecke, Sarah Hofs, Remi L Gratacap, Jon Robbins, Manohursingh Runglall, Celia Murciano, Mariana Blagojevic, Selvam Thavaraj, Toni M Forster, Betty Hebecker, Lydia Kasper, Gema Vizcay, Simona I Iancu, Nessim Kichik, Antje HaderOliver Kurzai, Ting Luo, Thomas Kruger, Olaf Kniemeyer, Ernesto Cota, Oliver Bader, Robert T Wheeler, Thomas Gutsmann, Bernhard Hube, Julian R. Naglik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

579 Citations (Scopus)


Cytolytic proteins and peptide toxins are classical virulence factors of several bacterial pathogens which disrupt epithelial barrier function, damage cells and activate or modulate host immune responses. Such toxins have not been identified previously in human pathogenic fungi. Here we identify the first, to our knowledge, fungal cytolytic peptide toxin in the opportunistic pathogen Candida albicans. This secreted toxin directly damages epithelial membranes, triggers a danger response signalling pathway and activates epithelial immunity. Membrane permeabilization is enhanced by a positive charge at the carboxy terminus of the peptide, which triggers an inward current concomitant with calcium influx. C. albicans strains lacking this toxin do not activate or damage epithelial cells and are avirulent in animal models of mucosal infection. We propose the name ‘Candidalysin’ for this cytolytic peptide toxin; a newly identified, critical molecular determinant of epithelial damage and host recognition of the clinically important fungus, C. albicans.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-68
Number of pages5
Early online date30 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2016

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgements We thank S. Gaffen, B. Klein, C. Hertweck, A. Tucker, J. Green
and S. Challacombe for comments on the manuscript. For experimental
assistance, we thank S. Bevan and D. Andersson (calcium assays), D. Nayar
(histology), D. Rahman and M. Mistry (murine model), M. Nilan (zebrafish
model), S. Groth (FRET spectroscopy), N. Gebauer (Impedance experiments),
D. Schulz (kex1∆/∆ strain) and our colleagues for supplying fungal mutant strains.
This work was supported by grants from the Medical Research Council
(MR/J008303/1, MR/M011372/1), Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research
Council (BB/J015261/1), FP7-PEOPLE-2013-Initial Training Network (606786)
to J.R.N.; Wellcome Trust Strategic Award for Medical Mycology and Fungal
Immunology (097377/Z/11/Z) to J.R.N. and D.W.; Sir Henry Dale Fellowship
jointly funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Royal Society (102549/Z/13/Z)
to D.W.; Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft CRC/TR124 FungiNet Project C1
and Z2, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft SPP 1580 (Hu 528/17-1) and
CSCC, German Federal Ministry of Education and Health (BMBF) 01EO1002
to B.Hu.; Cluster of Excellence ‘Inflammation at interfaces’ and Deutsche
Forschungsgemeinschaft SPP1580 project GU 568/5-1 to T.G.; National
Institutes of Health (R15AI094406) and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund to R.T.W


  • antimicrobial responses
  • fungal host response
  • fungal pathogenesis


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