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Regulatory Circuits That Enable Proliferation of the Fungus Candida albicans in a Mammalian Host

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, United States of America
PLoS Pathogens (Impact Factor: 7.56). 12/2013; 9(12):e1003780. DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1003780
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Available from: PubMed Central, Jan 14, 2014 · License: CC BY
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    ABSTRACT: The TLO genes are a family of telomere-associated ORFs in the fungal pathogens Candida albicans and C. dubliniensis that encode a subunit of the Mediator complex with homology to Med2. The more virulent pathogen C. albicans has 15 copies of the gene whereas the less pathogenic species C. dubliniensis has only two (CdTLO1 and CdTLO2). In this study we used C. dubliniensis as a model to investigate the role of TLO genes in regulating virulence and also to determine whether TLO paralogs have evolved to regulate distinct functions. A C. dubliniensis tlo1Δ/tlo2Δ mutant is unable to form true hyphae, has longer doubling times in galactose broth, is more susceptible to oxidative stress and forms increased levels of biofilm. Transcript profiling of the tlo1Δ/tlo2Δ mutant revealed increased expression of starvation responses in rich medium and retarded expression of hypha-induced transcripts in serum. ChIP studies indicated that Tlo1 binds to many ORFs including genes that exhibit high and low expression levels under the conditions analyzed. The altered expression of these genes in the tlo1Δ/tlo2Δ null mutant indicates roles for Tlo proteins in transcriptional activation and repression. Complementation of the tlo1Δ/tlo2Δ mutant with TLO1, but not TLO2, restored wild-type filamentous growth, whereas only TLO2 fully suppressed biofilm growth. Complementation with TLO1 also had a greater effect on doubling times in galactose broth. The different abilities of TLO1 and TLO2 to restore wild-type functions was supported by transcript profiling studies that showed that only TLO1 restored expression of hypha-specific genes (UME6, SOD5) and galactose utilisation genes (GAL1 and GAL10), whereas TLO2 restored repression of starvation-induced gene transcription. Thus, Tlo/Med2 paralogs encoding Mediator subunits regulate different virulence properties in Candida spp. and their expansion may account for the increased adaptability of C. albicans relative to other Candida species.
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    ABSTRACT: Only few Candida species, e.g., Candida albicans, Candida glabrata, Candida dubliniensis, and Candida parapsilosis, are successful colonizers of a human host. Under certain circumstances these species can cause infections ranging from superficial to life-threatening disseminated candidiasis. The success of C. albicans, the most prevalent and best studied Candida species, as both commensal and human pathogen depends on its genetic, biochemical, and morphological flexibility which facilitates adaptation to a wide range of host niches. In addition, formation of biofilms provides additional protection from adverse environmental conditions. Furthermore, in many host niches Candida cells coexist with members of the human microbiome. The resulting fungal-bacterial interactions have a major influence on the success of C. albicans as commensal and also influence disease development and outcome. In this chapter, we review the current knowledge of important survival strategies of Candida spp., focusing on fundamental fitness and virulence traits of C. albicans.
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