Candida albicans Induces Cross-Kingdom miRNA Trafficking in Human Monocytes To Promote Fungal Growth


In response to infections, human immune cells release extracellular vesicles (EVs) that carry a situationally adapted cocktail of proteins and nucleic acids, including microRNAs (miRNAs), to coordinate the immune response. In this study, we identified hsa-miR-21-5p and hsa-miR-24-3p as the most common miRNAs in exosomes released by human monocytes in response to the pathogenic fungus Candida albicans. Functional analysis of miRNAs revealed that hsa-miR-24-3p, but not hsa-miR-21-5p, acted across species and kingdoms, entering C. albicans and inducing fungal cell growth by inhibiting translation of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor Sol1. Packaging of hsa-miR-24-3p into monocyte exosomes required binding of fungal soluble β-glucan to complement receptor 3 (CR3) and binding of mannan to Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4), resulting in receptor colocalization. Together, our in vitro and in vivo findings reveal a novel cross-species evasion mechanism by which C. albicans exploits a human miRNA to promote fungal growth and survival in the host.