The ability to switch between different morphological forms is an important feature of Candida albicans and is relevant to its pathogenesis. Many conserved positive and negative transcription factors are involved in morphogenetic regulation of the two dimorphic fungi Candida albicans and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In S. cerevisiae, the transcriptional repressor Sfl1 and the activator Flo8 function antagonistically in invasive and filamentous growth. We have previously reported that Candida albicans Flo8 is a transcription factor essential for hyphal development and virulence in C. albicans. To determine whether a similar negative factor exists in C. albicans, we identified Candida albicans Sfl1 as a functional homolog of the S. cerevisiae sfl1 mutant. Sfl1 is a negative regulator of hyphal development in C. albicans. Deletion of C. albicans SFL1 enhanced filamentous growth and hypha-specific gene expression in several media and at several growth temperatures. Overexpression of the SFL1 led to a significant reduction of filament formation. Both deletion and overexpression of the SFL1 attenuated virulence of C. albicans in a mouse model. Deleting FLO8 in an sfl1/sfl1 mutant completely blocked hyphal development in various growth conditions examined, suggesting that C. albicans Sfl1 may act as a negative regulator of filamentous growth by antagonizing Flo8 functions. We suggest that, similar to the case for S. cerevisiae, a combination of dual control by activation and repression of Flo8 and Sfl1 may contribute to the fine regulatory network in C. albicans morphogenesis responding to different environmental cues.
The unicellular eukaryotic organisms represent the popular model systems to understand aging in eukaryotes. Candida albicans, a polymorphic fungus, appears to be another distinctive unicellular aging model in addition to the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe. The two types of Candida cells, yeast (blastospore) form and hyphal (filamentous) form, have similar replicative lifespan. Taking the advantage of morphologic changes, we are able to obtain cells of different ages. Old Candida cells tend to accumulate glycogen and oxidatively damaged proteins. Deletion of the SIR2 gene causes a decrease of lifespan, while insertion of an extra copy of SIR2 extends lifespan, indicating that like in S. cerevisiae, Sir2 regulates cellular aging in C. albicans. Interestingly, Sir2 deletion does not result in the accumulation of extra-chromosomal rDNA molecules, but influences the retention of oxidized proteins in mother cells, suggesting that the extra-chromosomal rDNA molecules may not be associated with cellular aging in C. albicans. This novel aging model, which allows efficient large-scale isolation of old cells, may facilitate biochemical characterizations and genomics/proteomics studies of cellular aging, and help to verify the aging pathways observed in other organisms including S. cerevisiae.
aging; Candida albicans; extra-chromosomal rDNA molecules; model; old cell preparation; SIR2
The ability to change from yeast to hyphal morphology is a major virulence determinant of Candida albicans. Mutants with defined defects in filamentation regulatory pathways have reduced virulence in mice. However, is it poorly understood why hyphal formation is critical for C. albicans to cause hematogenously disseminated infections. We used recently constructed mutants to examine the role of hyphal formation in the interactions of C. albicans with endothelial cells in vitro. These interactions included the ability of the mutants to invade and injure endothelial cells. Because the formation of hyphae may influence the host inflammatory response to C. albicans, we also investigated the capacity of these mutants to stimulate endothelial cells to express E-selectin and intercellular adhesion molecule 1. We infected endothelial cells with C. albicans strains containing homozygous null mutations in the following filamentation regulatory genes: CLA4, CPH1, EFG1, and TUP1. Whereas the wild-type strain formed true hyphae on endothelial cells, we found that neither the Δefg1 nor the Δcph1 Δefg1 double mutant germinated. The Δtup1 mutant formed only pseudohyphae. We also found that the Δefg1, Δcph1 Δefg1, and Δtup1 mutants had significantly reduced capacities to invade and injure endothelial cells. Therefore, Efg1p and Tup1p contribute to virulence by regulating hyphal formation and the factors that enable C. albicans to invade and injure endothelial cells. With the exception of the Δcph1 Δefg1 mutant, all other mutants stimulated endothelial cells to express at least one of the leukocyte adhesion molecules. Therefore, the combined activities of Cph1p and Efg1p are required for C. albicans to stimulate a proinflammatory response in endothelial cells.
The pathogenic yeast Candida albicans can undergo a dramatic change in morphology from round yeast cells to long filamentous cells called hyphae. We have cloned the CaMYO5 gene encoding the only myosin I in C. albicans. A strain with a deletion of both copies of CaMYO5 is viable but cannot form hyphae under all hypha-inducing conditions tested. This mutant exhibits a higher frequency of random budding and a depolarized distribution of cortical actin patches relative to the wild-type strain. We found that polar budding, polarized localization of cortical actin patches, and hypha formation are dependent on a specific phosphorylation site on myosin I, called the “TEDS-rule” site. Mutation of this serine 366 to alanine gives rise to the null mutant phenotype, while a S366D mutation, the product of which mimics a phosphorylated serine, allows hypha formation. However, the S366D mutation still causes a depolarized distribution of cortical actin patches in budding cells, similar to that in the null mutant. The localization of CaMyo5-GFP together with cortical actin patches at the bud and hyphal tips is also dependent on serine 366. Intriguingly, the cortical actin patches in the majority of the hyphae of the mutant expressing Camyo5S366D were depolarized, suggesting that although their distribution is dependent on myosin I localization, polarized cortical actin patches may not be required for hypha formation.
The ability of the pathogenic fungus Candida albicans to switch from a yeast to a hyphal morphology in response to external signals is implicated in its pathogenicity. We used glass DNA microarrays to investigate the transcription profiles of 6333 predicted ORFs in cells undergoing this transition and their responses to changes in temperature and culture medium. We have identified several genes whose transcriptional profiles are similar to those of known virulence factors that are modulated by the switch to hyphal growth caused by addition of serum and a 37°C growth temperature. Time course analysis of this transition identified transcripts that are induced before germ tube initiation and shut off later in the developmental process. A strain deleted for the Efg1p and Cph1p transcription factors is defective in hyphae formation, and its response to serum and increased temperature is almost identical to the response of a wild-type strain grown at 37°C in the absence of serum. Thus Efg1p and Cph1p are needed for the activation of the transcriptional program that is induced by the presence of serum.
The transcription factor Flo8 is essential for filamentous growth in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and is regulated under the cAMP/protein kinase A (PKA) pathway. To determine whether a similar pathway/regulation exists in Candida albicans, we have cloned C. albicans FLO8 by its ability to complement S. cerevisiae flo8. Deleting FLO8 in C. albicans blocked hyphal development and hypha-specific gene expression. The flo8/flo8 mutant is avirulent in a mouse model of systemic infection. Genome-wide transcription profiling of efg1/efg1 and flo8/flo8 using a C. albicans DNA microarray suggests that Flo8 controls subsets of Efg1-regulated genes. Most of these genes are hypha specific, including HGC1 and IHD1. We also show that Flo8 interacts with Efg1 in yeast and hyphal cells by in vivo immunoprecipitation. Similar to efg1/efg1, flo8/flo8 and cdc35/cdc35 show enhanced hyphal growth under an embedded growth condition. Our results suggest that Flo8 may function downstream of the cAMP/PKA pathway, and together with Efg1, regulates the expression of hypha-specific genes and genes that are important for the virulence of C. albicans.
Hyphal morphogenesis in Candida albicans is regulated by multiple pathways which act by either inducing or repressing filamentation. Most notably, Tup1, Nrg1, and Rfg1 are transcriptional repressors, while Efg1, Flo8, Cph1, and Czf1 can induce filamentation. Here, we present the functional analysis of CaSFL1, which encodes the C. albicans homolog of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae SFL1 (suppressor of flocculation) gene. Deletion of CaSFL1 results in flocculation (i.e., the formation of clumps) of yeast cells, which is most pronounced in minimal medium. The flocs contained hyphae already under noninducing conditions, and filamentation could be enhanced with hypha-inducing cues at 37°C. Expression of SFL1 in a heterozygous mutant under the control of the CaMET3 promoter was shown to complement these defects and allowed switching between wild-type and mutant phenotypes. Interestingly, increased expression of SFL1 using a MET3prom-SFL1 construct prior to the induction of filamentation completely blocked germ tube formation. To localize Sfl1 in vivo, we generated a SFL1-GFP fusion. Sfl1-green fluorescent protein was found in the nucleus in both yeast cells and, to a lesser extent, hyphal cells. Using reverse transcription-PCR, we find an increased expression of ALS1, ALS3, HWP1, ECE1, and also FLO8. Our results suggest that Sfl1 functions in the repression of flocculation and filamentation and thus represents a novel negative regulator of C. albicans morphogenesis.
The septin proteins function in the formation of septa, mating projections, and spores in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, as well as in cell division and other processes in animal cells. Candida albicans septins were examined in this study for their roles in morphogenesis of this multimorphic, opportunistically pathogenic fungus, which can range from round budding yeast to elongated hyphae. C. albicans green fluorescent protein labeled septin proteins localized to a tight ring at the bud and pseudohyphae necks and as a more diffuse array in emerging germ tubes of hyphae. Deletion analysis demonstrated that the C. albicans homologs of the S. cerevisiae CDC3 and CDC12 septins are essential for viability. In contrast, the C. albicans cdc10Δ and cdc11Δ mutants were viable but displayed conditional defects in cytokinesis, localization of cell wall chitin, and bud morphology. The mutant phenotypes were not identical, however, indicating that these septins carry out distinct functions. The viable septin mutants could be stimulated to undergo hyphal morphogenesis but formed hyphae with abnormal curvature, and they differed from wild type in the selection of sites for subsequent rounds of hyphal formation. The cdc11Δ mutants were also defective for invasive growth when embedded in agar. These results further extend the known roles of the septins by demonstrating that they are essential for the proper morphogenesis of C. albicans during both budding and filamentous growth.
Candida albicans is a pathogenic fungus able to change morphology in response to variations in its growth environment. Simple inoculation of stationary cells into fresh medium at 37°C, without any other manipulations, appears to be a powerful but transient inducer of hyphal formation; this process also plays a significant role in classical serum induction of hyphal formation. The mechanism appears to involve the release of hyphal repression caused by quorum-sensing molecules in the growth medium of stationary-phase cells, and farnesol has a strong but incomplete role in this process. We used DNA microarray technology to study both the resumption of growth of Candida albicans cells and molecular regulation involving farnesol. Maintaining farnesol in the culture medium during the resumption of growth both delays and reduces the induction of hypha-related genes yet triggers expression of genes encoding drug efflux components. The persistence of farnesol also prevents the repression of histone genes during hyphal growth and affects the expression of putative or demonstrated morphogenesis-regulating cyclin genes, such as HGC1, CLN3, and PCL2. The results suggest a model explaining the triggering of hyphae in the host based on quorum-sensing molecules.
Candida albicans is able to respond to environmental changes by inducing a distinct morphological program, which is related to the ability to infect mammalian hosts. Although some of the signal transduction pathways involved in this response are known, it is not clear how the environmental signals are sensed and transmitted to these transduction cascades. In this work, we have studied the function of GPA2, a new gene from C. albicans, which encodes a G-protein α-subunit homologue. We demonstrate that Gpa2 plays an important role in the yeast-hypha dimorphic transition in the response of C. albicans to some environmental inducers. Deletion of both alleles of the GPA2 gene causes in vitro defects in morphological transitions in Spider medium and SLAD medium and in embedded conditions but not in medium containing serum. These defects cannot be reversed by exogenous addition of cyclic AMP. However, overexpression of HST7, which encodes a component of the filament-inducing mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascade, bypasses the Gpa2 requirement. We have obtained different gain-of-function and loss-of-function mutant alleles of the GPA2 gene, which we have introduced in several C. albicans genetic backgrounds. Our results indicate that, in response to environmental cues, Gpa2 is required for the regulation of a MAPK signaling pathway.
Cell wall beta-glucan in a pathogenic fungus, Candida albicans, is highly branched with beta-1,3 and beta-1,6 linkages. We have isolated the C. albicans cDNAs for KRE6 and SKN1, the genes required for beta-1,6-glucan synthesis in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The results of Northern blot analysis revealed that C. albicans KRE6 was expressed at a higher level than SKN1 in the yeast phase, while SKN1 expression was strongly induced upon induction of hyphal formation. In addition, the C. albicans KRE6 and SKN1 mRNAs but not the actin mRNA were shortened during the yeast-hypha transition. Unlike S. cerevisiae, more than 50% of cell wall glucan was beta-1,6 linked in C. albicans. Neither beta-1,3-glucan nor beta-1,6-glucan was affected by the homozygous C. albicans skn1 delta null mutation. Although we never succeeded in generating the homozygous C. albicans kre6 delta null mutant, the hemizygous kre6 delta mutation decreased the KRE6 mRNA level by about 60% and also caused a more than 80% reduction of beta-1,6-glucan without affecting beta-1,3-glucan. The physiological function of KRE6 was further examined by studying gene regulation in C. albicans. When KRE6 transcription was suppressed by using the HEX1 promoter, C. albicans cells exhibited the partial defect in cell separation and increased susceptibility to Calcofluor White. These results demonstrate that KRE6 plays important roles in beta-1,6-glucan synthesis and budding in C. albicans.
Candida albicans colonizes the human gastrointestinal tract and can cause life-threatening systemic infection in susceptible hosts. We study here C. albicans virulence determinants using the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans in a pathogenesis system that models candidiasis. The yeast form of C. albicans is ingested into the C. elegans digestive tract. In liquid media, the yeast cells then undergo morphological change to form hyphae, which results in aggressive tissue destruction and death of the nematode. Several lines of evidence demonstrate that hyphal formation is critical for C. albicans pathogenesis in C. elegans. First, two yeast species unable to form hyphae (Debaryomyces hansenii and Candida lusitaniae) were less virulent than C. albicans in the C. elegans assay. Second, three C. albicans mutant strains compromised in their ability to form hyphae (efg1Δ/efg1Δ, flo8Δ/flo8Δ, and cph1Δ/cph1Δ efg1Δ/efg1Δ) were dramatically attenuated for virulence. Third, the conditional tet-NRG1 strain, which enables the external manipulation of morphogenesis in vivo, was more virulent toward C. elegans when the assay was conducted under conditions that permit hyphal growth. Finally, we demonstrate the utility of the C. elegans assay in a screen for C. albicans virulence determinants, which identified several genes important for both hyphal formation in vivo and the killing of C. elegans, including the recently described CAS5 and ADA2 genes. These studies in a C. elegans-C. albicans infection model provide insights into the virulence mechanisms of an important human pathogen.
Hyphal growth is prevalent during most Candida albicans infections. Current cell division models, which are based on cytological analyses of C. albicans, predict that hyphal branching is intimately linked with vacuolar inheritance in this fungus. Here we report the molecular validation of this model, showing that a specific mutation that disrupts vacuolar inheritance also affects hyphal division. The armadillo repeat-containing protein Vac8p plays an important role in vacuolar inheritance in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The VAC8 gene was identified in the C. albicans genome sequence and was resequenced. Homozygous C. albicans vac8Δ deletion mutants were generated, and their phenotypes were examined. Mutant vac8Δ cells contained fragmented vacuoles, and minimal vacuolar material was inherited by daughter cells in hyphal or budding forms. Normal rates of growth and hyphal extension were observed for the mutant hyphae on solid serum-containing medium. However, branching frequencies were significantly increased in the mutant hyphae. These observations are consistent with a causal relationship between vacuolar inheritance and the cell division cycle in the subapical compartments of C. albicans hyphae. The data support the hypothesis that cytoplasmic volume, rather than cell size, is critical for progression through G1.
The ability to switch between yeast and hyphal morphologies is an important virulence factor for the opportunistic pathogen Candida albicans. Although the kinetics of appearance of the filamentous ring that forms at the incipient septum differ in yeast and cells forming hyphae (germ tubes) (Soll and Mitchell, 1983), the molecular mechanisms that regulate this difference are not known. Int1p, a C. albicans gene product with similarity in its C terminus to Saccharomyces cerevisiae Bud4p, has a role in hyphal morphogenesis. Here we report that in S. cerevisiae, Int1p expression results in the growth of highly polarized cells with delocalized chitin and defects in cytokinesis and bud-site selection patterns, phenotypes that are also seen in S. cerevisiae septin mutant strains. Expression of high levels of Int1p in S. cerevisiae generated elaborate spiral-like structures at the periphery of the polarized cells that contained septins and Int1p. In addition, Int1p coimmunoprecipitated with the Cdc11p and Cdc12p septins, and Cdc12p is required for the establishment and maintenance of these Int1p/septin spirals. Although Swe1p kinase contributes to INT1-induced filamentous growth in S. cerevisiae, it is not required for the formation of ectopic Int1p/septin structures. In C. albicans, Int1p was important for the axial budding pattern and colocalized with Cdc3p septin in a ring at the mother-bud neck of yeast and pseudohyphal cells. Under conditions that induce hyphae, both Cdc3p and Int1p localized to a ring distal to the junction of the mother cell and germ tube. Thus, placement of the Int1p/septin ring with respect to the mother–daughter cell junction distinguishes yeast/pseudohyphal growth from hyphal growth in C. albicans.
Directional growth is a function of polarized cells such as neurites, pollen tubes, and fungal hyphae. Correct orientation of the extending cell tip depends on signaling pathways and effectors that mediate asymmetric responses to specific environmental cues. In the hyphal form of the eukaryotic fungal pathogen Candida albicans, these responses include thigmotropism and galvanotropism (hyphal turning in response to changes in substrate topography and imposed electrical fields, respectively) and penetration into semisolid substrates. During vegetative growth in C. albicans, as in the model yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the Ras-like GTPase Rsr1 mediates internal cellular cues to position new buds in a prespecified pattern on the mother cell cortex. Here, we demonstrate that Rsr1 is also important for hyphal tip orientation in response to the external environmental cues that induce thigmotropic and galvanotropic growth. In addition, Rsr1 is involved in hyphal interactions with epithelial cells in vitro and its deletion diminishes the hyphal invasion of kidney tissue during systemic infection. Thus, Rsr1, an internal polarity landmark in yeast, is also involved in polarized growth responses to asymmetric environmental signals, a paradigm that is different from that described for the homologous protein in S. cerevisiae. Rsr1 may thereby contribute to the pathogenesis of C. albicans infections by influencing hyphal tip responses triggered by interaction with host tissues.
Candida albicans undergoes a morphological transition from yeast to hyphae in response to a variety of stimuli and growth conditions. We previously isolated a LisH domain containing transcription factor Flo8, which is essential for hyphal development in C. albicans. To search the putative binding partner of Flo8 in C. albicans, we identified C. albicans Mss11, a functional homolog of Saccharomyces cerevisiae Mss11, which also contains a LisH motif at its N terminus. C. albicans Mss11 can interact with Flo8 via the LisH motif by in vivo coimmunoprecipitation. The results of a chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assay showed that more Mss11 and Flo8 proteins bound to the upstream activating sequence region of HWP1 promoter in hyphal cells than in yeast cells, and the increased binding of each of these two proteins responding to hyphal induction was dependent on the other. Overexpression of MSS11 enhanced filamentous growth. Deletion of MSS11 caused a profound defect in hyphal development and the induction of hypha-specific genes. Our data suggest that Mss11 functions as an activator in hyphal development of C. albicans. Furthermore, overexpression of FLO8 can bypass the requirement of Mss11 in filamentous formation, whereas overexpression of MSS11 failed to promote hyphae growth in flo8 mutants. In summary, we show that the expression level of MSS11 increases during hyphal induction, and the enhanced expression of MSS11 may contribute to cooperative binding of Mss11 and Flo8 to the HWP1 promoter.
Candida albicans undergoes a morphogenetic switch from budding yeast to hyphal growth form in response to a variety of stimuli and growth conditions. Multiple signaling pathways, including a Cph1-mediated mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway and an Efg1-mediated cyclic AMP/protein kinase A pathway, regulate the transition. Here we report the identification of a basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor of the Myc subfamily (Cph2) by its ability to promote pseudohyphal growth in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Like sterol response element binding protein 1, Cph2 has a Tyr instead of a conserved Arg in the basic DNA binding region. Cph2 regulates hyphal development in C. albicans, as cph2/cph2 mutant strains show medium-specific impairment in hyphal development and in the induction of hypha-specific genes. However, many hypha-specific genes do not have potential Cph2 binding sites in their upstream regions. Interestingly, upstream sequences of all known hypha-specific genes are found to contain potential binding sites for Tec1, a regulator of hyphal development. Northern analysis shows that TEC1 transcription is highest in the medium in which cph2/cph2 displays a defect in hyphal development, and Cph2 is necessary for this transcriptional induction of TEC1. In vitro gel mobility shift experiments show that Cph2 directly binds to the two sterol regulatory element 1-like elements upstream of TEC1. Furthermore, the ectopic expression of TEC1 suppresses the defect of cph2/cph2 in hyphal development. Therefore, the function of Cph2 in hyphal transcription is mediated, in part, through Tec1. We further show that this function of Cph2 is independent of the Cph1- and Efg1-mediated pathways.
The Candida albicans vacuole has previously been observed to undergo rapid expansion during the emergence of a germ tube from a yeast cell, to occupy the majority of the parent yeast cell. Furthermore, the yeast-to-hypha switch has been implicated in the virulence of this organism. The class C vps (vacuolar protein sorting) mutants of Saccharomyces cerevisiae are defective in multiple protein delivery pathways to the vacuole and prevacuole compartment. In this study C. albicans homologues of the S. cerevisiae class C VPS genes have been identified. Deletion of a C. albicans VPS11 homologue resulted in a number of phenotypes that closely resemble those of the class C vps mutants of S. cerevisiae, including the absence of a vacuolar compartment. The C. albicans vps11Δ mutant also had much-reduced secreted lipase and aspartyl protease activities. Furthermore, vps11Δ strains were defective in yeast-hypha morphogenesis. Upon serum induction of filamentous growth, mutants showed delayed emergence of germ tubes, had a reduced apical extension rate compared to those of control strains, and were unable to form mature hyphae. These results suggest that Vps11p-mediated trafficking steps are necessary to support the rapid emergence and extension of the germ tube from the parent yeast cell.
The fungus, Candida albicans, and the bacterium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, are opportunistic human pathogens that have been coisolated from diverse body sites. Pseudomonas aeruginosa suppresses C. albicans proliferation in vitro and potentially in vivo but it is the C. albicans hyphae that are killed while yeast cells are not. We show that hyphal killing involves both contact-mediated and soluble factors. Bacterial culture filtrates contained heat-labile soluble factors that killed C. albicans hyphae. In cocultures, localized points of hyphal lysis were observed, suggesting that adhesion and subsequent bacteria-mediated cell wall lysis is involved in the killing of C. albicans hyphae. The glycosylation status of the C. albicans cell wall affected the rate of contact-dependent killing because mutants with severely truncated O-linked, but not N-linked, glycans were hypersensitive to Pseudomonas-mediated killing. Deletion of HWP1, ALS3 or HYR1, which encode major hypha-associated cell wall proteins, had no effect on fungal susceptibility.
Candida; cell wall; glycosylation; hypha; Pseudomonas aeruginosa
Candida albicans forms unconstricted hyphae in serum-containing medium that are divided into discrete compartments. Time-lapse photomicroscopy, flow cytometry, and a novel three-dimensional imaging system were used to demonstrate that the kinetics and cell cycle events accompanying hyphal development were correlated with dynamic changes in vacuole morphology and the pattern of vacuole inheritance. Apical cells of hyphae underwent continuous extension before and after the first cytokinesis event. However, the resulting mother cell and sub-apical compartments did not immediately reenter the cell cycle and instead underwent cell cycle arrest before reentering the cycle. Vacuole was inherited asymmetrically at cytokinesis so that the distal, arrested compartments inherited most vacuole and the growing apical cell inherited most cytoplasm. Hydroxyurea release experiments demonstrated that the arrested, vacuolated hyphal compartments were in the G1 phase of the cycle. The period of cell cycle arrest was decreased by the provision of assimilatable forms of nitrogen, suggesting that the hyphal cell cycle is regulated by nitrogen limitation that results in sup-apical cell cycle arrest. This pattern of growth is distinct from that of the synchronous, symmetrical development of pseudohyphae of C. albicans and other yeast species. These observations suggest that the cellular vacuole space correlates with alterations in the cell cycles of different cell types and that the total organelle space may influence size-regulated functions and hence the timing of the eukaryotic cell cycle.
Localization of specific mRNAs is an important mechanism through which cells achieve polarity and direct asymmetric growth. Based on a framework established in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, we describe a She3-dependent RNA transport system in Candida albicans, a fungal pathogen of humans that grows as both budding (yeast) and filamentous (hyphal and pseudohyphal) forms. We identify a set of 40 mRNAs that are selectively transported to the buds of yeast-form cells and to the tips of hyphae, and we show that many of the genes encoded by these mRNAs contribute to hyphal development, as does the transport system itself. Although the basic system of mRNA transport is conserved between S. cerevisiae and C. albicans, we find that the cargo mRNAs have diverged considerably, implying that specific mRNAs can easily move in and out of transport control over evolutionary timescales. The differences in mRNA cargos likely reflect the distinct selective pressures acting on the two species.
Generation of cellular polarity – asymmetry in shape, protein distribution, and/or sub-cellular function – is an essential feature of most eukaryotic cells and underlies such diverse processes as differentiation, mating, nutrient acquisition, and growth. Localization of specific mRNAs is one mechanism through which cells achieve polarity. We describe an RNA transport system in Candida albicans, a fungal pathogen of humans, that grows in both single cell (budding yeast) and filamentous (hyphal and pseudohyphal) forms. Hyphae are chains of elongated cells that remain attached after cell division and exhibit highly polarized growth at their tips. We show that the C. albicans She3-dependent RNA transport system binds to 40 mRNAs and transports these mRNAs to yeast buds and to the tips of hyphae. Both the transport system itself and many of the genes encoded by transported mRNAs are required for normal growth and function of hyphae. Although the basic transport mechanism appears conserved with that of the model yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the cargo mRNAs are largely distinct. The apparently rapid evolution of the transported mRNAs probably reflects distinct selective pressures acting on the two organisms.
The ability to change between yeast and hyphal cells (dimorphism) is known to be a virulence property of the human pathogen Candida albicans. The pathogenesis of disseminated candidosis involves adhesion and penetration of hyphal cells from a colonized mucosal site to internal organs. Parenchymal organs, such as the liver and pancreas, are invaded by C. albicans wild-type hyphal cells between 4 and 24 h after intraperitoneal (i.p.) infection of mice. In contrast, a hypha-deficient mutant lacking the transcription factor Efg1 was not able to invade or damage these organs. To investigate whether this was due to the inability to undergo the dimorphic transition or due to the lack of hypha-associated factors, we investigated the role of secreted aspartic proteinases during tissue invasion and their association with the different morphologies of C. albicans. Wild-type cells expressed a distinct pattern of SAP genes during i.p. infections. Within the first 72 h after infection, SAP1, SAP2, SAP4, SAP5, SAP6, and SAP9 were the most commonly expressed proteinase genes. Sap1 to Sap3 antigens were found on yeast and hyphal cells, while Sap4 to Sap6 antigens were predominantly found on hyphal cells in close contact with host cells, in particular, eosinophilic leukocytes. Mutants lacking EFG1 had either noticeably reduced or higher expressed levels of SAP4 to SAP6 transcripts in vitro depending on the culture conditions. During infection, efg1 mutants had a strongly reduced ability to produce hyphae, which was associated with reduced levels of SAP4 to SAP6 transcripts. Mutants lacking SAP1 to SAP3 had invasive properties indistinguishable from those of wild-type cells. In contrast, a triple mutant lacking SAP4 to SAP6 showed strongly reduced invasiveness but still produced hyphal cells. When the tissue damage of liver and pancreas caused by single sap4, sap5, and sap6 and double sap4 and -6, sap5 and -6, and sap4 and -5 double mutants was compared to the damage caused by wild-type cells, all mutants which lacked functional SAP6 showed significantly reduced tissue damage. These data demonstrate that strains which produce hyphal cells but lack hypha-associated proteinases, particularly that encoded by SAP6, are less invasive. In addition, it can be concluded that the reduced virulence of hypha-deficient mutants is not only due to the inability to form hyphae but also due to modified expression of the SAP genes normally associated with the hyphal morphology.
Candida albicans undergoes a dramatic morphological transition in response to various growth conditions. This ability to switch from a yeast form to a hyphal form is required for its pathogenicity. The intractability of Candida to traditional genetic approaches has hampered the study of the molecular mechanism governing this developmental switch. Our approach is to use the more genetically tractable yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae to yield clues about the molecular control of filamentation for further studies in Candida. G1 cyclins Cln1 and Cln2 have been implicated in the control of morphogenesis in S. cerevisiae. We show that C. albicans CLN1 (CaCLN1) has the same cell cycle-specific expression pattern as CLN1 and CLN2 of S. cerevisiae. To investigate whether G1 cyclins are similarly involved in the regulation of cell morphogenesis during the yeast-to-hypha transition of C. albicans, we mutated CaCLN1. Cacln1/Cacln1 cells were found to be slower than wild-type cells in cell cycle progression. The Cacln1/Cacln1 mutants were also defective in hyphal colony formation on several solid media. Furthermore, while mutant strains developed germ tubes under several hypha-inducing conditions, they were unable to maintain the hyphal growth mode in a synthetic hypha-inducing liquid medium and were deficient in the expression of hypha-specific genes in this medium. Our results suggest that CaCln1 may coordinately regulate hyphal development with signal transduction pathways in response to various environmental cues.
The opportunistic human fungal pathogen Candida albicans is a major cause of nosocomial infections. One of the fundamental features of C. albicans pathogenesis is the yeast-to-hypha transition. Hypha formation is controlled positively by transcription factors such as Efg1p and Cph1p, which are required for hyphal growth, and negatively by Tup1p, Rfg1p, and Nrg1p. Previous work by our group has shown that modulating NRG1 gene expression, hence altering morphology, is intimately linked to the capacity of C. albicans to cause disease. To further dissect these virulence mechanisms, we employed the same strategy to analyze the role of Rfg1p in filamentation and virulence. Studies using a tet-RFG1 strain revealed that RFG1 overexpression does not inhibit hypha formation in vitro or in the mouse model of hematogenously disseminated candidiasis. Interestingly, RFG1 overexpression drives formation of pseudohyphae under yeast growth conditions—a phenotype similar to that of C. albicans strains with mutations in one of several mitotic regulatory genes. Complementation assays and real-time PCR analysis indicate that, although the morphology of the tet-RFG1 strain resembles that of the mitotic regulator mutants, Rfg1p overexpression does not impact expression of these genes.
The ability of Candida albicans, a major fungal pathogen, to switch between a yeast form, and a hyphal (mold) form is recognized as being important for the ability of the organism to invade the host and cause disease. We found that a C. albicans mutant deleted for CaCDC4, a homologue of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae F-box protein component of the SCFCDC4 ubiquitin ligase, is viable and displays constitutive filamentous, mostly hyphal, growth. The phenotype of the Cacdc4–/– mutant suggests that ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation is involved in the regulation of the dimorphic switch of C. albicans and that one or more regulators of the yeast-to-mold switch are among the substrates of SCFCaCDC4. Epistasis analysis indicates that the Cacdc4–/– phenotype is largely independent of the filamentation-inducing transcription factors Efg1 and Cph1. We identify C. albicans Far1 and Sol1, homologues of the S. cerevisiae SCFCDC4 substrates Far1 and Sic1, and show that Sol1 is a substrate of C. albicans Cdc4. Neither protein is essential for the hyphal phenotype of the Cacdc4–/– mutant. However, ectopic expression and deletion of SOL1 indicate a role for this gene in C. albicans morphogenesis.