The Fenton-chemistry-generating properties of copper ions are considered a potent phagolysosome defense against pathogenic microbes, yet our understanding of underlying host/microbe dynamics remains unclear. We address this issue in invasive aspergillosis and demonstrate that host and fungal responses inextricably connect copper and reactive oxygen intermediate (ROI) mechanisms. Loss of the copper-binding transcription factor AceA yields an Aspergillus fumigatus strain displaying increased sensitivity to copper and ROI in vitro, increased intracellular copper concentrations, decreased survival in challenge with murine alveolar macrophages (AMΦs), and reduced virulence in a non-neutropenic murine model. ΔaceA survival is remediated by dampening of host ROI (chemically or genetically) or enhancement of copper-exporting activity (CrpA) in A. fumigatus. Our study exposes a complex host/microbe multifactorial interplay that highlights the importance of host immune status and reveals key targetable A. fumigatus counter-defenses.
- Aspergillus fumigatus