A phenotypic profile of the Candida albicans regulatory network

PLoS Genet. 2009 Dec;5(12):e1000783. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1000783. Epub 2009 Dec 24.


Candida albicans is a normal resident of the gastrointestinal tract and also the most prevalent fungal pathogen of humans. It last shared a common ancestor with the model yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae over 300 million years ago. We describe a collection of 143 genetically matched strains of C. albicans, each of which has been deleted for a specific transcriptional regulator. This collection represents a large fraction of the non-essential transcription circuitry. A phenotypic profile for each mutant was developed using a screen of 55 growth conditions. The results identify the biological roles of many individual transcriptional regulators; for many, this work represents the first description of their functions. For example, a quarter of the strains showed altered colony formation, a phenotype reflecting transitions among yeast, pseudohyphal, and hyphal cell forms. These transitions, which have been closely linked to pathogenesis, have been extensively studied, yet our work nearly doubles the number of transcriptional regulators known to influence them. As a second example, nearly a quarter of the knockout strains affected sensitivity to commonly used antifungal drugs; although a few transcriptional regulators have previously been implicated in susceptibility to these drugs, our work indicates many additional mechanisms of sensitivity and resistance. Finally, our results inform how transcriptional networks evolve. Comparison with the existing S. cerevisiae data (supplemented by additional S. cerevisiae experiments reported here) allows the first systematic analysis of phenotypic conservation by orthologous transcriptional regulators over a large evolutionary distance. We find that, despite the many specific wiring changes documented between these species, the general phenotypes of orthologous transcriptional regulator knockouts are largely conserved. These observations support the idea that many wiring changes affect the detailed architecture of the circuit, but not its overall output.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Candida albicans / cytology*
  • Candida albicans / genetics*
  • Candida albicans / growth & development
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Databases, Genetic
  • Gene Knockout Techniques
  • Gene Library
  • Gene Regulatory Networks / genetics*
  • Homeostasis / genetics
  • Models, Biological
  • Phenotype
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Transcription, Genetic