Adaptations of Candida albicans for growth in the mammalian intestinal tract

Eukaryot Cell. 2010 Jul;9(7):1075-86. doi: 10.1128/EC.00034-10. Epub 2010 Apr 30.


Although the fungus Candida albicans is a commensal colonizer of humans, the organism is also an important opportunistic pathogen. Most infections caused by C. albicans arise from organisms that were previously colonizing the host as commensals, and therefore successful establishment of colonization is a prerequisite for pathogenicity. To elucidate fungal activities that promote colonization, an analysis of the transcription profile of C. albicans cells recovered from the intestinal tracts of mice was performed. The results showed that within the C. albicans colonizing population, cells expressed genes characteristic of the laboratory-grown exponential phase and genes characteristic of post-exponential-phase cells. Thus, gene expression both promoted the ability to grow rapidly (a characteristic of exponential-phase cells) and enhanced the ability to resist stresses (a characteristic of post-exponential-phase cells). Similarities in gene expression in commensal colonizing cells and cells invading host tissue during disease were found, showing that C. albicans cells adopt a particular cell surface when growing within a host in both situations. In addition, transcription factors Cph2p and Tec1p were shown to regulate C. albicans gene expression during intestinal colonization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological* / genetics
  • Animals
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Candida albicans / cytology
  • Candida albicans / genetics
  • Candida albicans / growth & development*
  • Candidiasis / genetics
  • Candidiasis / microbiology
  • Cecum / microbiology
  • Cell Membrane / microbiology
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fungal Proteins / genetics
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Mammals / microbiology*
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • CPH2 protein, Candida albicans
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Fungal Proteins
  • TEC1 protein, Candida albicans
  • Transcription Factors