N-acetylglucosamine induces white-to-opaque switching and mating in Candida tropicalis, providing new insights into adaptation and fungal sexual evolution.

State Key Laboratory of Mycology, Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.
Eukaryotic Cell (Impact Factor: 3.18). 04/2012; 11(6):773-82. DOI: 10.1128/EC.00047-12
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Pathogenic fungi are capable of switching between different phenotypes, each of which has a different biological advantage. In the most prevalent human fungal pathogen, Candida albicans, phenotypic transitions not only improve its adaptation to a continuously changing host microenvironment but also regulate sexual mating. In this report, we show that Candida tropicalis, another important human opportunistic pathogen, undergoes reversible and heritable phenotypic switching, referred to as the "white-opaque" transition. Here we show that N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc), an inducer of white-to-opaque switching in C. albicans, promotes opaque-cell formation and mating and also inhibits filamentation in a number of natural C. tropicalis strains. Our results suggest that host chemical signals may facilitate this phenotypic switching and mating of C. tropicalis, which had been previously thought to reproduce asexually. Overexpression of the C. tropicalis WOR1 gene in C. albicans induces opaque-cell formation. Additionally, an intermediate phase between white and opaque was observed in C. tropicalis, indicating that the switching could be tristable.

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