Candida albicans: adherence, signaling and virulence

Med Mycol. 2000;38 Suppl 1:125-37.


The focus of this symposium was to present new information on the morphogenesis of Candida albicans, particularly how it relates to signal transduction pathways and other genes involved in the regulation of morphogenesis. In addition, we discuss the role of adherence and colonization of the oral cavity by the organism and discuss the role of mannan as an adhesin that recognizes the human red blood cell. C. albicans utilizes at least two signal pathways to regulate its conversion from a yeast form to filamentous growth (hyphae). One of these two pathways is similar to the Saccharomyces cerevisiae pseudohyphal/mating pathway, which utilizes the regulatory protein, Cphlp. The other pathway is not totally defined but requires a second regulatory protein, referred to as Efg1p. Other signal pathways may exist, which include a two-component histidine kinase and response regulator proteins. The latter pathway(s) may include proteins such as Chk1p, Ssk1p, Shi1p and Cos1p/Nik1p. Mutations in strains, which specifically target these proteins, result in morphogenesis defects and avirulence or attenuation of strains. A growth regulatory gene has also been recently defined whose expression is associated with growth cessation and which appears to be a necessary prerequisite in conversion of the organism to a filamentous growth form. Starvation of yeast cells induces exponentially grown cells (and usually non-germinative) to germinate. This phenomenon is also observed in cells that are transiently treated with metabolic inhibitors. During each of these treatments (starvation, metabolic inhibition), expression of a growth regulatory gene (CGRI) increases. Adherence of C. albicans to host cells and tissues is complex; several proteins, which appear to have host recognition functions, have been defined. In the oral cavity, C. albicans selectively adheres to salivary proteins, which are absorbed to many oral surfaces. This mechanism enables the cells to colonize surfaces of the oral cavity. An understanding of these interactions may lead to strategies to prevent oral disease. Mannan from C. albicans may provide a host recognition function for C. albicans. Recent experiments indicate that mannan binds to human red blood cells and causes hemolysis. Binding of mannan to the band 3 protein of human red blood cells has been established. This activity may be associated with the ability of the organism to utilize hemoglobin (and iron).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Candida albicans / genetics
  • Candida albicans / growth & development*
  • Candida albicans / pathogenicity*
  • Candidiasis, Oral / microbiology*
  • Cell Adhesion / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal*
  • Humans
  • Morphogenesis / genetics
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Virulence