N-cadherin mediates endocytosis of Candida albicans by endothelial cells

Quynh T. Phan, Rutillio A. Fratti, Nemani V. Prasadarao, John E. Edwards, Scott G. Filler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Candida albicans is the most common cause of fungal bloodstream infections. To invade the deep tissues, blood-borne organisms must cross the endothelial cell lining of the vasculature. We have found previously that C. albicans hyphae, but not blastospores, invade endothelial cells in vitro by inducing their own endocytosis. Therefore, we set out to identify the endothelial cell receptor that mediates the endocytosis of C. albicans. We determined that endocytosis of C. albicans was not mediated by bridging molecules in the serum and that it was partially dependent on the presence of extracellular calcium. Using an affinity purification procedure, we discovered that endothelial cell N-cadherin bound to C. albicans hyphae but not blastospores. N-cadherin also co-localized with C. albicans hyphae that were being endocytosed by endothelial cells. Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells expressing human N-cadherin endocytosed significantly more C. albicans hyphae than did CHO cells expressing either human VE-cadherin or no human cadherins. The expression of N-cadherin by the CHO cells resulted in enhanced endocytosis of hyphae, but not blastospores, indicating the selectivity of the N-cadherin-mediated endocytosis. Down-regulation of endothelial cell N-cadherin expression with small interfering RNA significantly inhibited the endocytosis of C. albicans hyphae. Therefore, a novel function of N-cadherin is that it serves as an endothelial cell receptor, which mediates the endocytosis of C. albicans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10455-10461
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number11
StatePublished - Mar 18 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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