Titan cell production in Cryptococcus neoformans reshapes the cell wall and capsule composition during infection

Liliane Mukaremera, Keunsook K. Lee, Jeanette Wagener, Darin L. Wiesner, Neil A.R. Gow, Kirsten Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Cryptococcus neoformans is a human fungal pathogen that often causes infections in immunocompromised individuals. Upon inhalation into the lungs C. neoformans differentiates into cells with altered size and morphology, including production of large titan cells. Titan cells possess thickened cell wall and dense, cross-linked capsule when compared to in vitro grown cells. In addition, titan cells have increased cell wall chitin that is associated with a detrimental anti-inflammatory immune response. Here we examined the cell wall and capsule composition of in vitro, in vivo typical-sized and in vivo titan cells using High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC). The monomer composition of cell wall polysaccharides showed that in vivo C. neoformans cells contained more glucosamine and less glucose than in vitro cells, suggesting alteration in abundance of both chitin and glucans, respectively. Low levels of galactosamine were also detected in carbohydrates from both in vivo and vitro cells. Within the in vivo cell population, differences in the proportions of cell wall and capsule monomers between typical and titan cells were also observed. Taken together, these results demonstrate that C. neoformans reshapes its cell wall and capsule composition during infection. These cell wall and capsule alterations likely help C. neoformans escape recognition by, and allow modulation of, the host immune system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-24
Number of pages10
JournalCell Surface
StatePublished - Mar 2018

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  • C. neoformans
  • Capsule
  • Cell wall
  • Cryptococcus
  • Titan cells


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