Gcn4 co-ordinates morphogenetic and metabolic responses to amino acid starvation in Candida albicans

EMBO J. 2002 Oct 15;21(20):5448-56. doi: 10.1093/emboj/cdf507.


Candida albicans is a major fungal pathogen of humans. It regulates its morphology in response to various environmental signals, but many of these signals are poorly defined. We show that amino acid starvation induces filamentous growth in C.albicans. Also, starvation for a single amino acid (histidine) induces CaHIS4, CaHIS7, CaARO4, CaLYS1 and CaLYS2 gene expression in a manner reminiscent of the GCN response in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. These morphogenetic and GCN-like responses are both dependent upon CaGcn4, which is a functional homologue of S.cerevisiae Gcn4. Like ScGcn4, CaGcn4 activates the transcription of amino acid biosynthetic genes via the GCRE element, and CaGcn4 confers resistance to the histidine analogue, 3-aminotriazole. CaGcn4 interacts with the Ras-cAMP pathway to promote filamentous growth, but the GCN-like response is not dependent upon morphogenetic signalling. CaGcn4 acts as a global regulator in C.albicans, co-ordinating both metabolic and morphogenetic responses to amino acid starvation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Amino Acids / metabolism*
  • Base Sequence
  • Candida albicans / genetics
  • Candida albicans / growth & development*
  • Candida albicans / metabolism*
  • Culture Media
  • DNA, Fungal / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Fungal Proteins / genetics
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism*
  • Genes, Fungal
  • Histidine / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Kinases / genetics
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / growth & development
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / metabolism*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Signal Transduction
  • Species Specificity
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Transcriptional Activation


  • Amino Acids
  • Culture Media
  • DNA, Fungal
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • EFG1 protein, Candida albicans
  • Fungal Proteins
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Histidine
  • Protein Kinases