Of mice, flies - and men? Comparing fungal infection models for large-scale screening efforts
Studying infectious diseases requires suitable hosts for experimental in vivo infections. Recent years have seen the advent ofmanyalternatives to murine infection models. However, the use of non-mammalian models is still controversial because it is often unclear how well findings from these systems predict virulence potential in humans or other mammals. Here, we compare the commonly used models, fruit fly and mouse (representing invertebrate and mammalian hosts), for their similarities and degree of correlation upon infection with a library of mutants of an important fungal pathogen, the yeast Candida glabrata. Using two indices, for fly survival time and for mouse fungal burden in specific organs, we show a good agreement between the models. We provide a suitable predictivemodel for estimating the virulence potential of C. glabratamutants in themouse fromfly survival data. As examples, we found cellwall integritymutants attenuated in flies, andmutants of a MAP kinase p athway had defective virulence in flies and reduced relative pathogen fitness in mice. In addition, mutants with strongly reduced in vitro growth generally, but not always, had reduced virulence in flies. Overall, we demonstrate that surveying Drosophila survival after infection is a suitable model to predict the outcome of murine infections, especially for severely attenuated C. glabrata mutants. Pre-screening of mutants in an invertebrate Drosophila model can, thus, provide a good estimate of the probability of finding a strain with reduced microbial burden in the mouse host.