Genetic Regulators and Physiological Significance of Glycogen Storage in Candida albicans

J Fungi (Basel). 2019 Oct 30;5(4):102. doi: 10.3390/jof5040102.


The dimorphic human fungal pathogen C. albicans has broad metabolic flexibility that allows it to adapt to the nutrient conditions in different host habitats. C. albicans builds large carbohydrate stores (glycogen) at the end of exponential growth and begins consumption of stored carbohydrates when nutrients become limiting. The expression of genes required for the successful transition between host environments, including the factors controlling glycogen content, is controlled by protein kinase A signaling through the transcription factor Efg1. In addition to the inability to transition to hyphal growth, C. albicans efg1 mutants have low glycogen content and reduced long-term survival, suggesting that carbohydrate storage is required for viability during prolonged culture. To test this assumption, we constructed a glycogen-deficient C. albicans mutant and assessed its viability during extended culture. Pathways and additional genetic factors controlling C. albicans glycogen synthesis were identified through the screening of mutant libraries for strains with low glycogen content. Finally, a part of the Efg1-regulon was screened for mutants with a shortened long-term survival phenotype. We found that glycogen deficiency does not affect long-term survival, growth, metabolic flexibility or morphology of C. albicans. We conclude that glycogen is not an important contributor to C. albicans fitness.

Keywords: Candida albicans; Efg1; glycogen; glycogen synthase GSY1.