Secreted Aspartic Proteases Are Not Required for Invasion of Reconstituted Human Epithelia by Candida Albicans

Microbiology. 2008 Nov;154(Pt 11):3281-3295. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.2008/022525-0.


A well-known virulence attribute of the human-pathogenic yeast Candida albicans is the secretion of aspartic proteases (Saps), which may contribute to colonization and infection of different host niches by degrading tissue barriers, destroying host defence molecules, or digesting proteins for nutrient supply. The role of individual Sap isoenzymes, which are encoded by a large gene family, for the pathogenicity of C. albicans has been investigated by assessing the virulence of mutants lacking specific SAP genes and by studying the expression pattern of the SAP genes in various models of superficial and systemic infections. We used a recombination-based genetic reporter system to detect the induction of the SAP1-SAP6 genes during infection of reconstituted human vaginal epithelium. Only SAP5, but none of the other tested SAP genes, was detectably activated in this in vitro infection model. To directly address the importance of the SAP1-SAP6 genes for invasion of reconstituted human epithelia (RHE), we constructed a set of mutants of the wild-type C. albicans model strain SC5314 in which either single or multiple SAP genes were specifically deleted. Even mutants lacking all of the SAP1-SAP3 or the SAP4-SAP6 genes displayed the same capacity to invade and damage both oral and vaginal RHE as their wild-type parental strain, in contrast to a nonfilamentous efg1Delta mutant that was avirulent under these conditions. We therefore conclude from these results that the secreted aspartic proteases Sap1p-Sap6p are not required for invasion of RHE by C. albicans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aspartic Acid Endopeptidases / genetics
  • Aspartic Acid Endopeptidases / metabolism*
  • Candida albicans / enzymology*
  • Candida albicans / genetics
  • Candida albicans / pathogenicity*
  • Candidiasis / microbiology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Epithelial Cells / microbiology*
  • Female
  • Fungal Proteins / genetics
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Mouth / microbiology
  • Multigene Family
  • Protein Transport
  • Vagina / microbiology
  • Virulence


  • Fungal Proteins
  • Aspartic Acid Endopeptidases