Wild-type Drosophila melanogaster as an alternative model system for investigating the pathogenicity of Candida albicans.
Glittenberg MT., Silas S., MacCallum DM., Gow NA., Ligoxygakis P.
Candida spp. are opportunistic pathogens in humans, and their systemic infections display upwards of 30% mortality in immunocompromised patients. Current mammalian model systems have certain disadvantages in that obtaining results is time consuming owing to the relatively long life spans and these results have low statistical resolution because sample sizes are usually small. We have therefore evaluated the potential of Drosophila melanogaster as an additional model system with which to dissect the host-pathogen interactions that occur during Candida albicans systemic infection. To do this, we monitored the survival of wild-type flies infected with various C. albicans clinical isolates that were previously ranked for murine virulence. From our lifetime data we computed two metrics of virulence for each isolate. These correlated significantly with murine survival, and were also used to group the isolates, and this grouping made relevant predictions regarding their murine virulence. Notably, differences in virulence were not predictably resolvable using immune-deficient spz(-/-) flies, suggesting that Toll signalling might actually be required to predictably differentiate virulence. Our analysis reveals wild-type D. melanogaster as a sensitive and relevant model system; one that offers immense genetic tractability (having an extensive RNA interference library that enables tissue-specific gene silencing), and that is easy to manipulate and culture. Undoubtedly, it will prove to be a valuable addition to the model systems currently used to study C. albicans infection.