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Title: Transcriptional Regulation And The Role Of Galactose Metabolism In The Virulence Of Candida Albicans
Authors: Singh, Vijender
Advisors: Sadhale, Parag P
Keywords: Candida Albicans (Virulence)
Gene Expression
Galactose Metabolism
Gene Regulation
Candida Albicans - Morphogenesis
UDP-Galactose-4-Epimerase ( GAL10)
Candida albicans-Macrophage
Submitted Date: Mar-2007
Series/Report no.: G21104
Abstract: Candida albicans, a commensal of gastrointestinal and uro-vaginal tract can cause superficial as well as life threatening disseminated infections under conditions of lowered immunity of the host such as HIV infection, drug induced immune suppression [given during organ transplantation to prevent rejection] and radiation therapy [head and neck cancer patients] (Odds, 1988; Fidel and Sobel, 1996). Candida albicans shows a range of morphologies, it can switch from budding yeast morphology to pseudohyphae (chains of elongated cells with visible constrictions at the sites of septa) and hyphae (linear filaments without visible constrictions at the septa) (Mitchell, 1998). The various factors that contribute to its virulence include its ability to undergo yeast to hyphal transition, formation of biofilms, adhesion and secretion of aspartyl proteinases. Hyphae are considered to be involved in invasive growth as they are frequently identified in infected tissues and strains defective in morphological transition (yeast to hyphal) are avirulent (Leberer et al., 1996; Lo et al., 1997; Stoldt et al., 1997). Morphological switching is not only necessary for successful establishment of infection but important for evading components host defense system like macrophages or dendritic cells. A network of signaling pathways that operate in C. albicans continuously assess the nutrient availability, cell density and other environmental conditions. The integrated output of these pathways determine the response of C. albicans under given set of environmental/media conditions and eventually determines the gene expression and morphogenic transition (Liu., 2001). C. albicans utilizes at least two major signaling pathways besides others for regulating the morphological transition. One of these two pathways uses Cph1 as transcription factor and is the homolog of Ste12 in S. cerevisiae which is shown to be involved in Pseudohyphal growth and mating. The other pathway includes Efg1 (homolog of Phd1 in S. cerevisiae) as transcription factor. Biofilm formation by Candida species is an important virulence factor and has gained considerable interest recently as these specialized survival structures are found in implanted devices such as indwelling catheters and prosthetic heart valves (Hawser and Douglas, 1994; Douglas, 2003). These biofilms lead to the failure of implants besides providing multiple drug resistance (Baillie and Douglas, 1999). A better understanding of the C. albicans interaction with the host at the site of infection and with the components of immune system will help in identifying new potential drug targets. (a) Genome wide expression profile of Candida albicans from patient samples and characterization of CaRPB4/7: To get a better insight in C. albicans response at the site of infection we were interested in mapping the expression profile of Candida albicans in active state of human infections. Patients suffering from head and neck cancer undergoing radiation therapy have high risk of C. albicans infection. We identified five such patients with heavy oral thrush infections and C. albicans samples were collected from them. Candida albicans was confirmed in these samples by various microbiological tests following which the samples were used for RNA isolation. The whole genome expression analysis leads to the identification of 188 up regulated and 88 down regulated genes in patient samples. Our data analysis revealed that Protein Kinase A pathway and many downstream genes of the same were differentially expressed. Analysis of saliva (saliva is known for antifungal and antibacterial activity) from these patients showed that unlike healthy individuals, the patient saliva favours yeast to hyphal transition of C. albicans cells. This might be a reason for high risk of infection. A major class of upregulated genes is found to be functionally involved in transcription which includes some RNA polymeraseII and III subunits. CaRPB4, the forth largest subunit of RNA polymeraseII, was found to be upregulated in patient samples. RPB4 has been shown to form sub complex with RPB7, the seventh largest subunit of RNA polymeraseII, and both subunits are known to play a role in a variety of stress conditions and pseudohyphal development in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We characterized the CaRPB4 and CaRPB7 (homolog in Candida albicans) for their ability to complement their S. cerevisiae counterparts. CaRPB4 and CaRPB7 were able to complement majority of the phenotypes associated with these subunits in S. cerevisiae. Overexpression of CaRPB7 in S. cerevisiae enhances pseudohyphal growth. Considering the high degree of conservation of signaling pathways between S. cerevisiae and C. albicans it can be speculated that CaRPB7 might be involved in pseudohyphal development in C. albicans. We found that over expression of CaRPB4 in Candida albicans shows enhanced agar invasive growth which can be thought analogous to tissue invasion in host and hence might contribute for establishment of infection. This suggests that both the RNA polII subunits have a role to play in the virulence of C. albicans. (b) Characterization of UDP-Galactose 4-Epimerase (GAL10) from Candida albicans and their role in virulence. Enzyme UDP-Galactose-4-Epimerase [GAL10] is responsible for conversion of UDP-galactose to UDP-glucose which then gets metabolized by the cells through glycolysis and TCA cycle. The enzyme catalyzes a reversible reaction and can convert glucose to galactose in the absence of galactose as shown in Trypanosoma brucei and also involved in its virulence. In this study, we have identified the functional homolog of GAL10 in Candida albicans. S. cerevisiae and C. albicans GAL10 homologs are similar in their domainal organization as the proteins have a mutarotase and an epimerase domain. The former is responsible for conversion of ゚-D-galactose to a-D-galactose and the latter for epimerization of UDP-galactose to UDP-glucose. The synteny of galactose metabolizing structural genes is conserved among some fungi. To study the importance of CaGAL10 we generated deletion mutant of the gene in C. albicans. Our studies show that CaGAL10 [C. albicans GAL10] is involved in cell wall organization and in oxidative stress response. The mutant strain of GAL10 is hyperfilamentous in Lee’s and spider medium and the biofilm formed is morphologically different from the wild type strain. These set of results suggests that CaGAL10 plays an important role in organization/integrity of cell wall in C. albicans and speculate that it might be involved in virulence. (c) Study of Candida albicans-macrophage interaction and identification of transcriptional regulator of genes encoding proteins of translation machinery: Macrophages serve as the effector cells of cell mediated immunity in the control of infections. They are considered to be important for resistance to muco-cutaneous and systemic candidiasis. Our studies were aimed at understanding the response of Candida albicans cells to the presence of macrophages for extended period of time. The response was monitored using microarrays. Specifically genes involved in galactose, protein and lipid metabolism and stress response undergo concerted changes in their transcript levels. We analyzed the promoters of coregulated genes to identify common DNA elements present in them which might be involved in their transcriptional regulation. Promoter analysis of differentially expressed genes revealed presence of CPH1 and EFG1 transcription factor binding sites. Besides identifying CPH1 and EFG1 Binding sites, we identified two novel DNA elements in promoters of coregulated gene. A conserved motif TGAAAAGGAAG was identified in the promoters of genes involved in energy generation. Another 18 mer consensus palindromic sequence TAGGGCTNTAGCCCTAAT was identified in the promoters of about 48 genes. Majority of these genes encode ribosomal proteins. With the help of techniques like EMSA (Electophoretic Mobility Shift Assay) and south-western we had shown the presence of a protein of ~66 KDa molecular weight binding to the sequence with high specificity.
URI: http://etd.iisc.ernet.in/handle/2005/539
Appears in Collections:Microbiology and Cell Biology (mcbl)

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