The Candida albicans gene INT1 is associated with epithelial adhesion, hyphal formation, and virulence. C. albicans strains carrying two, one, or no functional INT1 alleles were used to assess the association between mortality and C. albicans persistence in the liver and kidney of intravenously inoculated mice. Mice were injected with 10(5) C. albicans CAF2 (parent strain, INT1/INT1), C. albicans CAG3 (homozygous disruptant, Int1/int1), or C. albicans CAG5 (heterozygous reintegrant, int1/int1 + INT1). Mortality was monitored and mice were sacrificed on Days 1, 7, 14, and 21 for quantitative analysis of kidney and liver microbes, with histologic analysis of these tissues as well. Mortality was highest for mice injected with the wild-type strain CAF2 (INT1/INT1) and lowest for mice injected with the homozygous disruptant CAG3 (int/int1). Yeast were readily cleared from the liver of all mice injected with any of the three C. albicans strains. Although the mutant strains CAG3 and CAG5 are defective for hyphal formation in vitro, there was histological evidence of abundant hyphal formation in the renal pelvis of mice injected with these strains. Compared to the wild-type strain, mutant strains were associated with reduced mortality but increased C. albicans persistence in the kidney. Thus, the absolute ability to form hyphae in the kidney did not appear to modulate either C. albicans-induced mortality or the course of progressive infection in the kidney. In addition, reduced virulence was paradoxically associated with increased, not decreased, persistence of C. albicans in the kidney.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.