Co-regulation of pathogenesis with dimorphism and phenotypic switching in Candida albicans, a commensal and a pathogen

Int J Med Microbiol. 2002 Oct;292(5-6):299-311. doi: 10.1078/1438-4221-00215.


Candida albicans, a common fungal pathogen of humans, can colonize in many diverse environments of the host and convert between a harmless commensal and a pathogen. Recent advances indicate that C. albicans uses a common set of conserved pathways to regulate dimorphism, mating and phenotypic switching. Major pathways known to regulate dimorphism include a mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase pathway through Cph1, the cAMP-dependent protein kinase pathway via Efg1, and Tup1-mediated repression through Rfg1 and Nrg1. The Cph1-mediated MAP kinase pathway is critical for the mating process, while all three pathways are implicated in the regulation of white-opaque switching. All these developmental pathways regulate the expression of hypha-specific and/or phase-specific genes. A high proportion of hypha-specific genes and phase-specific genes encode proteins that contribute directly or indirectly to pathogenesis and virulence of C. albicans. Therefore, virulence genes are co-regulated with cell morphogenesis. This supports a previous notion that the unique aspects of C. albicans commensalism and pathogenesis may lie in the developmental programs of dimorphism and phenotypic switching.

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 / metabolism
  • Candida albicans / pathogenicity
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Cyclic AMP Receptor Protein / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal / genetics*
  • Genes, Fungal / genetics
  • Hyphae / growth & development
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Phenotype
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / growth & development
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Virulence / genetics


  • CPH1 protein, Candida albicans
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Cyclic AMP Receptor Protein
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • EFG1 protein, Candida albicans
  • Fungal Proteins
  • RFG1 protein, Candida albicans
  • RIM101 protein, Candida albicans
  • RIM101 protein, S cerevisiae
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • CZF1 protein, Candida albicans
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases