Caspase recruitment domains-containing protein 9 (CARD9) is an adaptor molecule critical for key signalling pathways initiated through C-type lectin receptors (CLRs). Previous studies demonstrated that Pneumocystis organisms are recognised through a variety of CLRs. However, the role of the downstream CARD9 adaptor signalling protein in host defence against Pneumocystis infection remains to be elucidated. Herein, we analysed the role of CARD9 in host defence against Pneumocystis both in CD4-depleted CARD9−/− and immunocompetent hosts. Card9 gene-disrupted (CARD9−/−) mice were more susceptible to Pneumocystis, as evidenced by reduced fungal clearance in infected lungs compared to wild-type (WT) infected mice. Our data suggests that this defect was due to impaired proinflammatory responses. Furthermore, CARD9−/− macrophages were severely compromised in their ability to differentiate and express M1 and M2 macrophage polarisation markers, to enhanced mRNA expression for Dectin-1 and Mincle, and most importantly, to kill Pneumocystis in vitro. Remarkably, compared to WT mice, and despite markedly increased organism burdens, CARD9−/− animals did not exhibit worsened survival during pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP), perhaps related to decreased lung injury due to altered influx of inflammatory cells and decreased levels of proinflammatory cytokines in response to the organism. Finally, although innate phase cytokines were impaired in the CARD9−/− animals during PCP, T-helper cell cytokines were normal in immunocompetent CARD9−/− animals infected with Pneumocystis. Taken together, our data demonstrate that CARD9 has a critical function in innate immune responses against Pneumocystis.
- host defence
ASJC Scopus subject areas