Microbial interactions and differential protein expression in Staphylococcus aureus -Candida albicans dual-species biofilms

FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 2010 Aug;59(3):493-503. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-695X.2010.00710.x. Epub 2010 Jun 7.


The fungal species Candida albicans and the bacterial species Staphylococcus aureus are responsible for a majority of hospital-acquired infections and often coinfect critically ill patients as complicating polymicrobial biofilms. To investigate biofilm structure during polymicrobial growth, dual-species biofilms were imaged with confocal scanning laser microscopy. Analyses revealed a unique biofilm architecture where S. aureus commonly associated with the hyphal elements of C. albicans. This physical interaction may provide staphylococci with an invasion strategy because candidal hyphae can penetrate through epithelial layers. To further understand the molecular mechanisms possibly responsible for previously demonstrated amplified virulence during coinfection, protein expression studies were undertaken. Differential in-gel electrophoresis identified a total of 27 proteins to be significantly differentially produced by these organisms during coculture biofilm growth. Among the upregulated staphylococcal proteins was l-lactate dehydrogenase 1, which confers resistance to host-derived oxidative stressors. Among the downregulated proteins was the global transcriptional repressor of virulence factors, CodY. These findings demonstrate that the hyphae-mediated enhanced pathogenesis of S. aureus may not only be due to physical interactions but can also be attributed to the differential regulation of specific virulence factors induced during polymicrobial growth. Further characterization of the intricate interaction between these pathogens at the molecular level is warranted, as it may aid in the design of novel therapeutic strategies aimed at combating fungal-bacterial polymicrobial infection.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Biofilms / growth & development*
  • Candida albicans / growth & development
  • Candida albicans / physiology*
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Humans
  • Hyphae
  • Microbial Interactions*
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Staphylococcus aureus / growth & development
  • Staphylococcus aureus / physiology*
  • Virulence Factors / biosynthesis*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Virulence Factors