Candida albicans is the most common human fungal pathogen and can cause life-threatening infections. Filamentous growth is critical in the pathogenicity of C. albicans, as the transition from yeast to hyphal forms is linked to virulence and is also a pivotal process in fungal biofilm development. Homeodomain-containing transcription factors have been linked to developmental processes in fungi and other eukaryotes. We report here on GRF10, a homeobox transcription factor-encoding gene that plays a role in C. albicans filamentation. Deletion of the GRF10 gene, in both C. albicans SN152 and BWP17 strain backgrounds, results in mutants with strongly decreased hyphal growth. The mutants are defective in chlamydospore and biofilm formation, as well as showing dramatically attenuated virulence in a mouse infection model. Expression of the GRF10 gene is highly induced during stationary phase and filamentation. In summary, our study emphasizes a new role for the homeodomain-containing transcription factor in morphogenesis and pathogenicity of C. albicans.
Keywords: Candida albicans; GRF10; biofilm formation; chlamydospore formation; filamentation; virulence.
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