How the sugars in saliva tame the rebellious fungi of the body

Katarina Ribeck’s laboratory collects mucus – often the sticky substance present in places such as the mouth, intestines, reproductive tract and intestines. Although the slimy layer may not be good from the start, the cleansing process can refresh it. “Once you remove the particles and germs, it’s a beautiful, beautiful transparent gel – like egg white,” said Ribeck, a professor of bioengineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. – It’s really wonderful.

Ribeck takes care of spitting because he tries to deconstruct how glycans, the small sugar molecules hidden inside mucus, work to keep a certain body healthy. Scientists already know that mucus is important for maintaining human health and maintaining the microbiome. The work of glycans, according to Ribeck and others, is critical. They specialize in managing microorganisms that can be useful – aiding digestion, regulating immunity and protecting against microbes – but this can be harmful if they compete with each other or become virulent, potentially leading to infection . Like microscopic wires, glycans ensure that each section of the microbial orchestra plays in harmony.

IN study published this month in Natural chemical biologyRibeck and her colleagues showed how glycans maintain fungi called Candida albicans (C. albicans) from making them problematic. The boundary between friend and foe is vaguely drawn in the case of C. albicans. The fungus is polymorphic, which means that it can take different forms: a rounded yeast-like structure (usually considered normal) can turn into a filamentous, filamentous shape associated with virulence. While fungi can contribute to immunity, they can also lead to fungal infections or, more seriously, systemic blood infections.

Sing Sing Way, a doctor-scientist at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center who did not participate in this study, studied the ways in which the change in shape Candida can be beneficial to human health. “Complex microbes like Candida have evolved together not only with humans but also with other mammal hosts for a long, long time, ‚ÄĚsays Wei. “They have developed strategies that are good for both of them.” He believes that if we understand why and how mushrooms change shape, we can use this connection to keep them in good behavior.

Rebecca’s group had done it previous job finding out how mucus stops other microbes from becoming dangerous. In this new set of experiments, scientists wanted to know exactly how it works in the case of C. albicans.

But first, they needed a lot of mucus. “It’s surprisingly difficult to collect larger volumes of mucus,” says Ribeck. – This is really valuable material. The team collected three types of mucus using different methods: aspiration of human sputum (similar to the way a dentist uses a suction tube to suck saliva under a patient’s tongue), and scraping the entrails of pig intestines and stomachs. They then incubated the purified mucus with C. albicans inside a plate with a well – a transparent rectangular vessel dotted with 96 holes, similar to a beehive, containing small volumes of mushrooms.

They found that all three types of mucus stopped the fungus from sticking to the plate, compared to the negative control. C. albicans it also looked rounder when there was mucus, unlike the extended version associated with filamentation. This, researchers say, shows that mucus can prevent fungi from sticking to body surfaces or forming biofilms that are fibrous, intertwined layers of fungus that are associated with infections.

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