Stimulation of cells of the macrophage lineage is a crucial step in the sensing of yeasts by the immune system. Glycans present in both Candida albicans and Saccharomyces cerevisiae cell walls have been shown to act as ligands for different receptors leading to different stimulating pathways, some of which need receptor co-involvement. However, among these ligand-receptor couples, none has been shown to discriminate the pathogenic yeast C. albicans. We explored the role of galectin-3, which binds C. albicans beta-1,2 mannosides. These glycans are specifically and prominently expressed at the surface of C. albicans but not on S. cerevisiae. Using a mouse cell line and galectin-3-deleted cells from knockout mice, we demonstrated a specific enhancement of the cellular response to C. albicans compared with S. cerevisiae, which depended on galectin-3 expression. However, galectin-3 was not required for recognition and endocytosis of yeasts. In contrast, using PMA-induced differentiated THP-1, we observed that the presence of TLR2 was required for efficient uptake and endocytosis of both C. albicans and S. cerevisiae. TLR2 and galectin-3, which are expressed at the level of phagosomes containing C. albicans, were shown to be associated in differentiated macrophages after incubation with this sole species. These data suggest that macrophages differently sense C. albicans and S. cerevisiae through a mechanism involving TLR2 and galectin-3, which probably associate for binding of ligands expressing beta-1,2 mannosides specific to the C. albicans cell wall surface.
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