Papers in the Biological Sciences
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Access Microbiology: An Open Research Platform Volume 3, Issue 12
Candida albicans is a pathogenic dimorphic fungus which is invariably found as a diploid in patients. C. albicans secretes the sesquiterpene farnesol both as a quorum sensing molecule which blocks the yeast to hypha conversion and as a virulence factor for pathogenicity. 20-25 μM farnesol kills other competing yeasts and fungi, often by triggering apoptosis, and yet wild type diploid C. albicans tolerates 300-500 μM farnesol. The recent availability of 10 haploid strains of C. albicans (5 mating type aand 5 mating type α) allowed us to compare their production of and sensitivity to farnesol. On average, the heterozygous diploid strains of C. albicans were 2.4 times more resistant to 20-40 μM farnesol than MTLa haploid cells and 4.6 times more resistant than MTLα haploid cells. Furthermore, the MTLa haploids produce approximately 10 times more farnesol than do the MTLα haploids. Prior work concluded that haploid strains exhibited such low fitness that C. albicans was thought to be an obligate diploid. We now suggest that increased farnesol secretion by the MTLa haploids and increased farnesol sensitivity of the MTLα haploids is a mechanism for maintaining the dominant heterozygous diploid status of C. albicans. This idea is based on the observation that the a-factor peptide pheromone is farnesylated but the α-factor pheromone is not farnesylated. Our working hypothesis is that farnesol is secreted in part via Ste6 and imported in part via Ste3, the proteins which export and import the farnesylated a-pheromone. We also examined whether farnesol was excreted in extracellular vesicles.
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