Genetics and molecular biology in Candida albicans

Methods Enzymol. 2010;470:737-58. doi: 10.1016/S0076-6879(10)70031-8. Epub 2010 Mar 1.


Candida albicans is an opportunistic fungal pathogen of humans. Although a normal part of our gastrointestinal flora, C. albicans has the ability to colonize nearly every human tissue and organ, causing serious, invasive infections. In this chapter we describe current methodologies used in molecular genetic studies of this organism. These techniques include rapid sequential gene disruption, DNA transformation, RNA isolation, epitope tagging, and chromatin immunoprecipitation. The ease of these techniques, combined with the high-quality C. albicans genome sequences now available, have greatly facilitated research into this important pathogen. Candida albicans is a normal resident of the human gastrointestinal tract; it is also the most common fungal pathogen of humans, causing both mucosal and systemic infections, particularly in immune compromised patients. C. albicans and Saccharomyces cerevisiae last shared a common ancestor more than 900 million years ago; in terms of conserved coding sequences, the two species are approximately as divergent as fish and humans. Although C. albicans and S. cerevisiae share certain core features, they also exhibit many significant differences. This is not surprising as C. albicans has the ability to survive in nearly every niche of a mammalian host, a property not shared by S. cerevisiae. Research into C. albicans is important in its own right, particularly with regards to its ability to cause disease in humans; in addition, comparison with S. cerevisiae can reveal important insights into evolutionary processes. Many of the methodologies developed for use in S. cerevisiae have been adapted for C. albicans, and we describe some of the most common. Although alternative procedures are described in the literature, we have found those described below to be the most convenient. Because the C. albicans parasexual cycle is cumbersome to use in the laboratory, genetics in this organism has been based almost entirely on directed mutations. Because the organism is diploid, creating a deletion mutant requires two rounds of gene disruption. We describe a rapid method for creating sequential disruptions, one which can be scaled up to create large collections of C. albicans deletion mutants. We also describe a series of additional techniques including DNA transformation, mRNA isolation, epitope tagging, and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP). The ease of these techniques, combined with the high-quality C. albicans genome sequences now available, has greatly increased the quality and pace of research into this important pathogen.

MeSH terms

  • Candida albicans / genetics
  • Candida albicans / metabolism*
  • Chromatin Immunoprecipitation
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal / physiology
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction