Doctoral Researchers

Vivas, Wolfgang

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JSMC Fellow

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Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology - Hans-Knöll-Institute-
ZIK Septomics
Research Group Fungal Septomics
PhD Project:

Modulation of Dendritic Cell Function by the fungal Quorum Sensing Molecule Farnesol


Abstract: Quorum Sensing is a major mechanism of inter-microbial communication mediated by molecules that are released from growing microorganisms and accumulate in relation to microbial...
... replication. Farnesol – the first identified fungal quorum sensing molecule – mediates the response of Candida albicans to growing population density and controls filamentation of C. albicans which is a major virulence trait. Beside species-specific effects on C. albicans, farnesol can exert effects on other microbes and is therefore a prototype mediator of inter- and intraspecies microbial communication. In previous work we have investigated the impact of farnesol on innate immune cells. For this, we used several infection models with primary human monocytes, monocytes-derived dendritic cells, and neutrophilic granulocytes that are established in our lab. Farnesol was able to induce activation of neutrophils and monocytes and triggered the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines. In contrast, farnesol impaired differentiation of monocytes into dendritic cells (DC) by modulating the phenotype, cytokine release and migrational behavior during differentiation. These modulatory effects resulted in severely impaired induction of antifungal activity in DC. In the proposed project, we will build from this work and try to elucidate the molecular basis of farnesol mediated DC differentiation, maturation and functionality. We will use of state of the art microbiological and immunological tools, primarily working with monocytes-derived DC. The project is built on several collaborations, including Prof. Dr. Marc Thilo Figge.