In JoVE (1)

Other Publications (88)

Articles by Judith Berman in JoVE

Other articles by Judith Berman on PubMed

MEC3, MEC1, and DDC2 Are Essential Components of a Telomere Checkpoint Pathway Required for Cell Cycle Arrest During Senescence in Saccharomyces Cerevisiae

Molecular Biology of the Cell. Aug, 2002  |  Pubmed ID: 12181334

When telomerase is absent and/or telomeres become critically short, cells undergo a progressive decline in viability termed senescence. The telomere checkpoint model predicts that cells will respond to a damaged or critically short telomere by transiently arresting and activating repair of the telomere. We examined the senescence of telomerase-deficient Saccharomyces cerevisiae at the cellular level to ask if the loss of telomerase activity triggers a checkpoint response. As telomerase-deficient mutants were serially subcultured, cells exhibited a progressive decline in average growth rate and an increase in the number of cells delayed in the G2/M stage of the cell cycle. MEC3, MEC1, and DDC2, genes important for the DNA damage checkpoint response, were required for the cell cycle delay in telomerase-deficient cells. In contrast, TEL1, RAD9, and RAD53, genes also required for the DNA damage checkpoint response, were not required for the G2/M delay in telomerase-deficient cells. We propose that the telomere checkpoint is distinct from the DNA damage checkpoint and requires a specific set of gene products to delay the cell cycle and presumably to activate telomerase and/or other telomere repair activities.

A Forkhead Transcription Factor is Important for True Hyphal As Well As Yeast Morphogenesis in Candida Albicans

Eukaryotic Cell. Oct, 2002  |  Pubmed ID: 12455696

Candida albicans is an important pathogen of immunocompromised patients which grows with true hyphal, pseudohyphal, and yeast morphologies. The dynamics of cell cycle progression are markedly different in true hyphal relative to pseudohyphal and yeast cells, including nuclear movement and septin ring positioning. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, two forkhead transcription factors (ScFKH1 and ScFKH2) regulate the expression of B-cyclin genes. In both S. cerevisiae and Schizosaccharomyces pombe, forkhead transcription factors also influence morphogenesis. To explore the molecular mechanisms that connect C. albicans morphogenesis with cell cycle progression, we analyzed CaFKH2, the single homolog of S. cerevisiae FKH1/FKH2. C. albicans cells lacking CaFkh2p formed constitutive pseudohyphae under all yeast and hyphal growth conditions tested. Under hyphal growth conditions levels of hyphae-specific mRNAs were reduced, and under yeast growth conditions levels of several genes encoding proteins likely to be important for cell wall separation were reduced. Together these results imply that Fkh2p is required for the morphogenesis of true hyphal as well as yeast cells. Efglp and Cphlp, two transcription factors that contribute to C. albicans hyphal growth, were not required for the pseudohyphal morphology of fkh2 mutants, implying that Fkh2p acts in pathways downstream of and/or parallel to Efglp and Cphlp. In addition, cells lacking Fkh2p were unable to damage human epithelial or endothelial cells in vitro, suggesting that Fkh2p contributes to C. albicans virulence.

Candida Albicans: a Molecular Revolution Built on Lessons from Budding Yeast

Nature Reviews. Genetics. Dec, 2002  |  Pubmed ID: 12459722

Candida albicans is an opportunistic fungal pathogen that is found in the normal gastrointestinal flora of most healthy humans. However, in immunocompromised patients, blood-stream infections often cause death, despite the use of anti-fungal therapies. The recent completion of the C. albicans genome sequence, the availability of whole-genome microarrays and the development of tools for rapid molecular-genetic manipulations of the C. albicans genome are generating an explosion of information about the intriguing biology of this pathogen and about its mechanisms of virulence. They also reveal the extent of similarities and differences between C. albicans and its benign relative, Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

MRNAs Encoding Telomerase Components and Regulators Are Controlled by UPF Genes in Saccharomyces Cerevisiae

Eukaryotic Cell. Feb, 2003  |  Pubmed ID: 12582130

Telomeres, the chromosome ends, are maintained by a balance of activities that erode and replace the terminal DNA sequences. Furthermore, telomere-proximal genes are often silenced in an epigenetic manner. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, average telomere length and telomeric silencing are reduced by loss of function of UPF genes required in the nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) pathway. Because NMD controls the mRNA levels of several hundred wild-type genes, we tested the hypothesis that NMD affects the expression of genes important for telomere functions. In upf mutants, high-density oligonucleotide microarrays and Northern blots revealed that the levels of mRNAs were increased for genes encoding the telomerase catalytic subunit (Est2p), in vivo regulators of telomerase (Est1p, Est3p, Stn1p, and Ten1p), and proteins that affect telomeric chromatin structure (Sas2p and Orc5p). We investigated whether overexpressing these genes could mimic the telomere length and telomeric silencing phenotypes seen previously in upf mutant strains. Increased dosage of STN1, especially in combination with increased dosage of TEN1, resulted in reduced telomere length that was indistinguishable from that in upf mutants. Increased levels of STN1 together with EST2 resulted in reduced telomeric silencing like that of upf mutants. The half-life of STN1 mRNA was not altered in upf mutant strains, suggesting that an NMD-controlled transcription factor regulates the levels of STN1 mRNA. Together, these results suggest that NMD maintains the balance of gene products that control telomere length and telomeric silencing primarily by maintaining appropriate levels of STN1, TEN1, and EST2 mRNA.

The Effects of Dehydration on Rehabilitation Outcomes of Elderly Orthopedic Patients

Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Jan, 2003  |  Pubmed ID: 12589621

To study the effects of dehydration, by using the indices of prerenal azotemia and orthostasis, on the rehabilitation outcomes of elderly orthopedic patients.

Molecular Genetic and Genomic Approaches to the Study of Medically Important Fungi

Infection and Immunity. May, 2003  |  Pubmed ID: 12704098

Functional Conservation of Dhh1p, a Cytoplasmic DExD/H-box Protein Present in Large Complexes

Nucleic Acids Research. Sep, 2003  |  Pubmed ID: 12930949

The DHH1 gene in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae encodes a putative RNA helicase of remarkable sequence similarity to several other DExD/H-box proteins, including Xp54 in Xenopus laevis and Ste13p in Schizosaccharomyces pombe. We show here that over-expression of Xp54, an integral component of the stored messenger ribonucleoprotein (mRNP) particles, can rescue the loss of Dhh1p in yeast. Localization and sedimentation studies showed that Dhh1p exists predominantly in the cytoplasm and is present in large complexes whose sizes appear to vary according to the growth stage of the cell culture. In addition, deletion of dhh1, when placed in conjunction with the mutant dbp5 and ded1 alleles, resulted in a synergistically lethal effect, suggesting that Dhh1p may have a role in mRNA export and translation. Finally, similar to Ste13p, Dhh1p is required for sporulation in the budding yeast. Taken together, our data provide evidence that the functions of Dhh1p are conserved through evolution.

Telomere Cap Components Influence the Rate of Senescence in Telomerase-deficient Yeast Cells

Molecular and Cellular Biology. Jan, 2004  |  Pubmed ID: 14701754

Cells lacking telomerase undergo senescence, a progressive reduction in cell division that involves a cell cycle delay and culminates in "crisis," a period when most cells become inviable. In telomerase-deficient Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells lacking components of the nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) pathway (Upf1,Upf2, or Upf3 proteins), senescence is delayed, with crisis occurring approximately 10 to 25 population doublings later than in Upf+ cells. Delayed senescence is seen in upfDelta cells lacking the telomerase holoenzyme components Est2p and TLC1 RNA, as well as in cells lacking the telomerase regulators Est1p and Est3p. The delay of senescence in upfDelta cells is not due to an increased rate of survivor formation. Rather, it is caused by alterations in the telomere cap, composed of Cdc13p, Stn1p, and Ten1p. In upfDelta mutants, STN1 and TEN1 levels are increased. Increasing the levels of Stn1p and Ten1p in Upf+ cells is sufficient to delay senescence. In addition, cdc13-2 mutants exhibit delayed senescence rates similar to those of upfDelta cells. Thus, changes in the telomere cap structure are sufficient to affect the rate of senescence in the absence of telomerase. Furthermore, the NMD pathway affects the rate of senescence in telomerase-deficient cells by altering the stoichiometry of telomere cap components.

Cassettes for the PCR-mediated Construction of Regulatable Alleles in Candida Albicans

Yeast (Chichester, England). Apr, 2004  |  Pubmed ID: 15116343

The recent availability of genome sequence information for the opportunistic pathogen Candida albicans has greatly facilitated the ability to perform genetic manipulations in this organism. Two important molecular tools for studying gene function are regulatable promoters for generating conditional mutants and fluorescent proteins for determining the subcellular localization of fusion gene products. We describe a set of plasmids containing promoter-GFP cassettes (P(MET3)-GFP, P(GAL1)-GFP, and P(PCK1)-GFP), linked to a selectable nutritional marker gene (URA3). PCR-mediated gene modification generates gene-specific promoter, or gene-specific promoter-GFP, fusions at the 5'-end of the gene of interest. One set of primers can be used to generate three strains expressing a native protein of interest, or an amino-terminal GFP-tagged version, from three different regulatable promoters. Thus, these promoter cassette plasmids facilitate construction of conditional mutant strains, overexpression alleles and/or inducible amino-terminal GFP fusion proteins.

The Distinct Morphogenic States of Candida Albicans

Trends in Microbiology. Jul, 2004  |  Pubmed ID: 15223059

The human fungal pathogen, Candida albicans can grow in at least three different morphologies: yeast, pseudohyphae and hyphae. Further morphological forms exist during colony switching, for example, opaque phase cells are oblong, rather than the oval shape of yeast cells. Pseudohyphae and hyphae are both elongated and sometimes there has been little attempt to distinguish between them, as both are "filamentous forms" of the fungus. We review here the differences between them that suggest that they are distinct morphological states. We argue that studies on "filamentous forms" should always include a formal analysis to determine whether the cells are hyphae or pseudohyphae and we suggest some simple experimental criteria that can be applied to achieve this.

Yeast Chromatin Assembly Complex 1 Protein Excludes Nonacetylatable Forms of Histone H4 from Chromatin and the Nucleus

Molecular and Cellular Biology. Dec, 2004  |  Pubmed ID: 15542829

In yeast, the establishment and maintenance of a transcriptionally silent chromatin state are dependent upon the acetylation state of the N terminus of histone proteins. Histone H4 proteins that contain mutations in N-terminal lysines disrupt heterochromatin and result in yeast that cannot mate. Introduction of a wild-type copy of histone H4 restores mating, despite the presence of the mutant protein, suggesting that mutant H4 protein is either excluded from, or tolerated in, chromatin. To understand how the cell differentiates wild-type histone and mutant histone in which the four N-terminal lysines were replaced with alanine (H4-4A), we analyzed silencing, growth phenotypes, and the histone composition of chromatin in yeast strains coexpressing equal amounts of wild-type and mutant H4 proteins (histone H4 heterozygote). We found that histone H4 heterozygotes have defects in heterochromatin silencing and growth, implying that mutations in H4 are not completely recessive. Nuclear preparations from histone H4 heterozygotes contained less mutant H4 than wild-type H4, consistent with the idea that cells exclude some of the mutant histone. Surprisingly, the N-terminal nuclear localization signal of H4-4A fused to green fluorescent protein was defective in nuclear localization, while a mutant in which the four lysines were replaced with arginine (H4-4R) appeared to have normal nuclear import, implying a role for the charged state of the acetylatable lysines in the nuclear import of histones. The biased partial exclusion of H4-4A was dependent upon Cac1p, the largest subunit of yeast chromatin assembly factor 1 (CAF-1), as well as upon the karyopherin Kap123p, but was independent of Cac2p, another CAF-1 component, and other chromatin assembly proteins (Hir3p, Nap1p, and Asf1p). We conclude that N-terminal lysines of histone H4 are important for efficient histone nuclear import. In addition, our data support a model whereby Cac1p and Kap123 cooperate to ensure that only appropriately acetylated histone H4 proteins are imported into the nucleus.

Transcriptional Profiling in Candida Albicans Reveals New Adaptive Responses to Extracellular PH and Functions for Rim101p

Molecular Microbiology. Dec, 2004  |  Pubmed ID: 15554973

The human pathogen Candida albicans grows and colonizes sites that can vary markedly in pH. The pH response in C. albicans is governed in part by the Rim101p pathway. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Rim101p promotes alkaline responses by repressing expression of NRG1, itself a transcriptional repressor. Our studies reveal that in C. albicans, Rim101p-mediated alkaline adaptation is not through repression of CaNRG1. Furthermore, our studies suggest that Rim101p and Nrg1p act in parallel pathways to regulate hyphal morphogenesis, an important contributor to virulence. To determine the wild-type C. albicans transcriptional response to acidic and alkaline pH, we utilized microarrays and identified 514 pH-responsive genes. Of these, several genes involved in iron acquisition were upregulated at pH 8, suggesting that alkaline pH induces iron starvation. Microarray analysis of rim101-/- cells indicated that Rim101p does not govern transcriptional responses at acidic pH, but does regulate a subset of transcriptional responses at alkaline pH, including the iron acquisition genes. We found that rim101-/- cells are sensitive to iron starvation, which suggests that one important aspect of the Rim101p-dependent alkaline pH response is to adapt to iron starvation conditions.

Comparative Genome Hybridization Reveals Widespread Aneuploidy in Candida Albicans Laboratory Strains

Molecular Microbiology. Mar, 2005  |  Pubmed ID: 15720560

Clinical strains of Candida albicans are highly tolerant of aneuploidies and other genome rearrangements. We have used comparative genome hybridization (CGH), in an array format, to analyse the copy number of over 6000 open reading frames (ORFs) in the genomic DNA of C. albicans laboratory strains carrying one (CAI-4) to three (BWP17) auxotrophies. We find that during disruption of the HIS1 locus all genes telomeric to HIS1 were deleted and telomeric repeats were added to a 9 nt sequence within the transforming DNA. This deletion occurred in approximately 10% of transformants analysed and was stably maintained through two additional rounds of transformation and counterselection of the transformation marker. In one example, the deletion was repaired, apparently via break-induced replication. Furthermore, all CAI-4 strains tested were trisomic for chromosome 2 although this trisomy appears to be unstable, as it is not detected in strains subsequently derived from CAI-4. Our data indicate CGH arrays can be used to detect monosomies and trisomies, to predict the sites of chromosome breaks, and to identify chromosomal aberrations that have not been detected with other approaches in C. albicans strains. Furthermore, they highlight the high level of genome instability in C. albicans laboratory strains exposed to the stress of transformation and counterselection on 5-fluoro-orotic acid.

The Mitotic Cyclins Clb2p and Clb4p Affect Morphogenesis in Candida Albicans

Molecular Biology of the Cell. Jul, 2005  |  Pubmed ID: 15888543

The ability of Candida albicans to switch cellular morphologies is crucial for its ability to cause infection. Because the cell cycle machinery participates in Saccharomyces cerevisiae filamentous growth, we characterized in detail the two C. albicans B-type cyclins, CLB2 and CLB4, to better understand the molecular mechanisms that underlie the C. albicans morphogenic switch. Both Clb2p and Clb4p levels are cell cycle regulated, peaking at G2/M and declining before mitotic exit. On hyphal induction, the accumulation of the G1 cyclin Cln1p was prolonged, whereas the accumulation of both Clb proteins was delayed when compared with yeast form cells, indicating that CLB2 and CLB4 are differentially regulated in the two morphologies and that the dynamics of cyclin appearance differs between yeast and hyphal forms of growth. Clb2p-depleted cells were inviable and arrested with hyper-elongated projections containing two nuclei, suggesting that Clb2p is not required for entry into mitosis. Unlike Clb2p-depleted cells, Clb4p-depleted cells were viable and formed constitutive pseudohyphae. Clb proteins lacking destruction box domains blocked cell cycle progression resulting in the formation of long projections, indicating that both Clb2p and Clb4p must be degraded before mitotic exit. In addition, overexpression of either B-type cyclin reduced the extent of filamentous growth. Taken together, these data indicate that Clb2p and Clb4p regulate C. albicans morphogenesis by negatively regulating polarized growth.

Candida Albicans Hyphae Have a Spitzenkörper That is Distinct from the Polarisome Found in Yeast and Pseudohyphae

Journal of Cell Science. Jul, 2005  |  Pubmed ID: 15976451

Fungi grow with a variety of morphologies: oval yeast cells, chains of elongated cells called pseudohyphae and long, narrow, tube-like filaments called hyphae. In filamentous fungi, hyphal growth is strongly polarised to the tip and is mediated by the Spitzenkörper, which acts as a supply centre to concentrate the delivery of secretory vesicles to the tip. In the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, polarised growth is mediated by the polarisome, a surface cap of proteins that nucleates the formation of actin cables delivering secretory vesicles to the growing tip. The human fungal pathogen, Candida albicans, can grow in all three morphological forms. Here we show the presence of a Spitzenkörper at the tip of C. albicans hyphae as a ball-like localisation of secretory vesicles, together with the formin Bni1 and Mlc1, an ortholog of an S. cerevisiae myosin regulatory light chain. In contrast, in C. albicans yeast cells, pseudohyphae and hyphae Spa2 and Bud6, orthologs of S. cerevisiae polarisome components, as well as the master morphology regulator Cdc42, localise predominantly, but not exclusively, to a surface cap resembling the polarisome of S. cerevisiae yeast cells. A small amount of Cdc42 also localises to the Spitzenkörper. Furthermore, we show differences in the genetic and cytoskeletal requirements, and cell cycle dynamics of polarity determinants in yeast, pseudohyphae and hyphae. These results, together with the cytological differences between the cell types, suggest that the Spitzenkörper and polarisome are distinct structures, that the polarisome and Spitzenkörper coexist in hyphae, and that polarised growth in hyphae is driven by a fundamentally different mechanism to that in yeast and pseudohyphae.

Rewiring of the Yeast Transcriptional Network Through the Evolution of Motif Usage

Science (New York, N.Y.). Aug, 2005  |  Pubmed ID: 16081737

Recent experiments revealed large-scale differences in the transcription programs of related species, yet little is known about the genetic basis underlying the evolution of gene expression and its contribution to phenotypic diversity. Here we describe a large-scale modulation of the yeast transcription program that is connected to the emergence of the capacity for rapid anaerobic growth. Genes coding for mitochondrial and cytoplasmic ribosomal proteins display a strongly correlated expression pattern in Candida albicans, but this correlation is lost in the fermentative yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We provide evidence that this change in gene expression is connected to the loss of a specific cis-regulatory element from dozens of genes following the apparent whole-genome duplication event. Our results shed new light on the genetic mechanisms underlying the large-scale evolution of transcriptional networks.

A Human-curated Annotation of the Candida Albicans Genome

PLoS Genetics. Jul, 2005  |  Pubmed ID: 16103911

Recent sequencing and assembly of the genome for the fungal pathogen Candida albicans used simple automated procedures for the identification of putative genes. We have reviewed the entire assembly, both by hand and with additional bioinformatic resources, to accurately map and describe 6,354 genes and to identify 246 genes whose original database entries contained sequencing errors (or possibly mutations) that affect their reading frame. Comparison with other fungal genomes permitted the identification of numerous fungus-specific genes that might be targeted for antifungal therapy. We also observed that, compared to other fungi, the protein-coding sequences in the C. albicans genome are especially rich in short sequence repeats. Finally, our improved annotation permitted a detailed analysis of several multigene families, and comparative genomic studies showed that C. albicans has a far greater catabolic range, encoding respiratory Complex 1, several novel oxidoreductases and ketone body degrading enzymes, malonyl-CoA and enoyl-CoA carriers, several novel amino acid degrading enzymes, a variety of secreted catabolic lipases and proteases, and numerous transporters to assimilate the resulting nutrients. The results of these efforts will ensure that the Candida research community has uniform and comprehensive genomic information for medical research as well as for future diagnostic and therapeutic applications.

Microtubules in Candida Albicans Hyphae Drive Nuclear Dynamics and Connect Cell Cycle Progression to Morphogenesis

Eukaryotic Cell. Oct, 2005  |  Pubmed ID: 16215177

Candida albicans is an opportunistic fungal pathogen whose virulence is related to its ability to switch between yeast, pseudohyphal, and true-hyphal morphologies. To ask how long-distance nuclear migration occurs in C. albicans hyphae, we identified the fundamental properties of nuclear movements and microtubule dynamics using time-lapse microscopy. In hyphae, nuclei migrate to, and divide across, the presumptive site of septation, which forms 10 to 15 microm distal to the basal cell. The mother nucleus returns to the basal cell, while the daughter nucleus reiterates the process. We used time-lapse microscopy to identify the mechanisms by which C. albicans nuclei move over long distances and are coordinated with hyphal morphology. We followed nuclear migration and spindle dynamics, as well as the time and position of septum specification, defined it as the presumptum, and established a chronology of nuclear, spindle, and morphological events. Analysis of microtubule dynamics revealed that premitotic forward nuclear migration is due to the repetitive sliding of astral microtubules along the cell cortex but that postmitotic forward and reverse nuclear migrations are due primarily to spindle elongation. Free microtubules exhibit cell cycle regulation; they are present during interphase and disappear at the time of spindle assembly. Finally, a growth defect in strains expressing Tub2-green fluorescent protein revealed a connection between hyphal elongation and the nuclear cell cycle that is coordinated by hyphal length and/or volume.

Comparative Gene Expression Analysis by Differential Clustering Approach: Application to the Candida Albicans Transcription Program

PLoS Genetics. Sep, 2005  |  Pubmed ID: 16470937

Differences in gene expression underlie many of the phenotypic variations between related organisms, yet approaches to characterize such differences on a genome-wide scale are not well developed. Here, we introduce the "differential clustering algorithm" for revealing conserved and diverged co-expression patterns. Our approach is applied at different levels of organization, ranging from pair-wise correlations within specific groups of functionally linked genes, to higher-order correlations between such groups. Using the differential clustering algorithm, we systematically compared the transcription program of the fungal pathogen Candida albicans with that of the model organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Many of the identified differences are related to the differential requirement for mitochondrial function in the two yeasts. Distinct regulation patterns of cell cycle genes and of amino acid metabolic genes were also revealed and, in some cases, could be linked to the differential appearance of cis-regulatory elements in the gene promoter regions. Our study provides a comprehensive framework for comparative gene expression analysis and a rich source of hypotheses for uncharacterized open reading frames and putative cis-regulatory elements in C. albicans.

A Mutation in Tac1p, a Transcription Factor Regulating CDR1 and CDR2, is Coupled with Loss of Heterozygosity at Chromosome 5 to Mediate Antifungal Resistance in Candida Albicans

Genetics. Apr, 2006  |  Pubmed ID: 16452151

TAC1, a Candida albicans transcription factor situated near the mating-type locus on chromosome 5, is necessary for the upregulation of the ABC-transporter genes CDR1 and CDR2, which mediate azole resistance. We showed previously the existence of both wild-type and hyperactive TAC1 alleles. Wild-type alleles mediate upregulation of CDR1 and CDR2 upon exposure to inducers such as fluphenazine, while hyperactive alleles result in constitutive high expression of CDR1 and CDR2. Here we recovered TAC1 alleles from two pairs of matched azole-susceptible (DSY294; FH1: heterozygous at mating-type locus) and azole-resistant isolates (DSY296; FH3: homozygous at mating-type locus). Two different TAC1 wild-type alleles were recovered from DSY294 (TAC1-3 and TAC1-4) while a single hyperactive allele (TAC1-5) was isolated from DSY296. A single amino acid (aa) difference between TAC1-4 and TAC1-5 (Asn977 to Asp or N977D) was observed in a region corresponding to the predicted activation domain of Tac1p. Two TAC1 alleles were recovered from FH1 (TAC1-6 and TAC1-7) and a single hyperactive allele (TAC1-7) was recovered from FH3. The N977D change was seen in TAC1-7 in addition to several other aa differences. The importance of N977D in conferring hyperactivity to TAC1 was confirmed by site-directed mutagenesis. Both hyperactive alleles TAC1-5 and TAC1-7 were codominant with wild-type alleles and conferred hyperactive phenotypes only when homozygous. The mechanisms by which hyperactive alleles become homozygous was addressed by comparative genome hybridization and single nucleotide polymorphism arrays and indicated that loss of TAC1 heterozygosity can occur by recombination between portions of chromosome 5 or by chromosome 5 duplication.

Aneuploidy and Isochromosome Formation in Drug-resistant Candida Albicans

Science (New York, N.Y.). Jul, 2006  |  Pubmed ID: 16857942

Resistance to the limited number of available antifungal drugs is a serious problem in the treatment of Candida albicans. We found that aneuploidy in general and a specific segmental aneuploidy, consisting of an isochromosome composed of the two left arms of chromosome 5, were associated with azole resistance. The isochromosome forms around a single centromere flanked by an inverted repeat and was found as an independent chromosome or fused at the telomere to a full-length homolog of chromosome 5. Increases and decreases in drug resistance were strongly associated with gain and loss of this isochromosome, which bears genes expressing the enzyme in the ergosterol pathway targeted by azole drugs, efflux pumps, and a transcription factor that positively regulates a subset of efflux pump genes.

Transcript Profiles of Candida Albicans Cortical Actin Patch Mutants Reflect Their Cellular Defects: Contribution of the Hog1p and Mkc1p Signaling Pathways

Eukaryotic Cell. Aug, 2006  |  Pubmed ID: 16896210

In Candida albicans, Myo5p and Sla2p are required for the polarized localization and function of cortical actin patches, for hyphal formation, and for endocytosis. Deletion of either the MYO5 or the SLA2 gene generated a common transcriptional response that involved changes in the transcript levels of cell wall protein- and membrane protein-encoding genes. However, these profiles were distinct from those observed for a mutant with specific deletions of the actin-organizing domains of Myo5p or for wild-type cells treated with cytochalasin A, both of which also generate defects in the organization of cortical actin patches. The profiles observed for the myo5Delta and sla2Delta mutants had similarities to those of wild-type cells subjected to an osmotic shock, and the defects in cortical patch function found with myo5Delta and sla2Delta mutants, but not cortical actin patch distribution per se, affected sensitivity to various stresses, including heat and osmotic shocks and cell wall damage. Secondary effects coupled with defective endocytosis, such as lack of polarized lipid rafts and associated protein Rvs167-GFP (where GFP is green fluorescent protein) and lack of polarized wall remodeling protein GFP-Gsc1, were also observed for the myo5Delta and sla2Delta mutants. The mitogen-activated protein kinases Hog1p and Mkc1p, which mediate signaling in response to osmotic stress and cell wall damage, do not play a major role in regulating the transcript level changes in the myo5Delta and sla2Delta mutants. Hog1p was not hyperphosphorylated in the myo5Delta and sla2Delta mutants, and the transcript levels of only a subset of genes affected in the myo5Delta mutant were dependent upon the presence of Hog1p and Mkc1p. However, it appears that Hog1p and Mkc1p play important roles in the myo5Delta mutant cells because double deletion of myosin I and either Hog1p or Mkc1p resulted in very-slow-growing cells.

Morphogenesis and Cell Cycle Progression in Candida Albicans

Current Opinion in Microbiology. Dec, 2006  |  Pubmed ID: 17055773

Candida albicans, an opportunistic human pathogen, displays three modes of growth: yeast, pseudohyphae and true hyphae, all of which differ both in morphology and in aspects of cell cycle progression. In particular, in hyphal cells, polarized growth becomes uncoupled from other cell cycle events. Yeast or pseudohyphae that undergo a cell cycle delay also exhibit polarized growth, independent of cell cycle progression. The Spitzenkörper, an organelle composed of vesicles associated with hyphal tips, directs continuous hyphal elongation in filamentous fungal species and also in C. albicans hyphae. A polarisome mediates cell cycle dependent growth in yeast and pseudohyphae. Regulation of morphogenesis and cell cycle progression is dependent upon specific cyclins, all of which affect morphogenesis and some of which function specifically in yeast or hyphal cells. Future work will probably focus on the cell cycle checkpoints involved in connecting morphogenesis to cell cycle progression.

The Pattern and Evolution of Yeast Promoter Bendability

Trends in Genetics : TIG. Jul, 2007  |  Pubmed ID: 17418911

In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, transcription factor binding sites are found preferentially approximately 100-200 bp upstream of the start codon. Here, we show that this region is associated with rigid DNA in promoters lacking a TATA box, but not in TATA-containing promoters. The association of rigid DNA with transcription factor binding sites is conserved in TATA-less promoters from 11 yeast species, whereas the position of the rigid DNA varies substantially among species. Rigid DNA could influence nucleosome positioning and assist in the assembly of the transcriptional machinery at TATA-less promoters.

Genotypic Evolution of Azole Resistance Mechanisms in Sequential Candida Albicans Isolates

Eukaryotic Cell. Oct, 2007  |  Pubmed ID: 17693596

TAC1 (for transcriptional activator of CDR genes) is critical for the upregulation of the ABC transporters CDR1 and CDR2, which mediate azole resistance in Candida albicans. While a wild-type TAC1 allele drives high expression of CDR1/2 in response to inducers, we showed previously that TAC1 can be hyperactive by a gain-of-function (GOF) point mutation responsible for constitutive high expression of CDR1/2. High azole resistance levels are achieved when C. albicans carries hyperactive alleles only as a consequence of loss of heterozygosity (LOH) at the TAC1 locus on chromosome 5 (Chr 5), which is linked to the mating-type-like (MTL) locus. Both are located on the Chr 5 left arm along with ERG11 (target of azoles). In this work, five groups of related isolates containing azole-susceptible and -resistant strains were analyzed for the TAC1 and ERG11 alleles and for Chr 5 alterations. While recovered ERG11 alleles contained known mutations, 17 new TAC1 alleles were isolated, including 7 hyperactive alleles with five separate new GOF mutations. Single-nucleotide-polymorphism analysis of Chr 5 revealed that azole-resistant strains acquired TAC1 hyperactive alleles and, in most cases, ERG11 mutant alleles by LOH events not systematically including the MTL locus. TAC1 LOH resulted from mitotic recombination of the left arm of Chr 5, gene conversion within the TAC1 locus, or the loss and reduplication of the entire Chr 5. In one case, two independent TAC1 hyperactive alleles were acquired. Comparative genome hybridization and karyotype analysis revealed the presence of isochromosome 5L [i(5L)] in two azole-resistant strains. i(5L) leads to increased copy numbers of azole resistance genes present on the left arm of Chr 5, among them TAC1 and ERG11. Our work shows that azole resistance was due not only to the presence of specific mutations in azole resistance genes (at least ERG11 and TAC1) but also to their increase in copy number by LOH and to the addition of extra Chr 5 copies. With the combination of these different modifications, sophisticated genotypes were obtained. The development of azole resistance in C. albicans is therefore a powerful instrument for generating genetic diversity.

Haplotype Mapping of a Diploid Non-meiotic Organism Using Existing and Induced Aneuploidies

PLoS Genetics. Jan, 2008  |  Pubmed ID: 18179283

Haplotype maps (HapMaps) reveal underlying sequence variation and facilitate the study of recombination and genetic diversity. In general, HapMaps are produced by analysis of Single-Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) segregation in large numbers of meiotic progeny. Candida albicans, the most common human fungal pathogen, is an obligate diploid that does not appear to undergo meiosis. Thus, standard methods for haplotype mapping cannot be used. We exploited naturally occurring aneuploid strains to determine the haplotypes of the eight chromosome pairs in the C. albicans laboratory strain SC5314 and in a clinical isolate. Comparison of the maps revealed that the clinical strain had undergone a significant amount of genome rearrangement, consisting primarily of crossover or gene conversion recombination events. SNP map haplotyping revealed that insertion and activation of the UAU1 cassette in essential and non-essential genes can result in whole chromosome aneuploidy. UAU1 is often used to construct homozygous deletions of targeted genes in C. albicans; the exact mechanism (trisomy followed by chromosome loss versus gene conversion) has not been determined. UAU1 insertion into the essential ORC1 gene resulted in a large proportion of trisomic strains, while gene conversion events predominated when UAU1 was inserted into the non-essential LRO1 gene. Therefore, induced aneuploidies can be used to generate HapMaps, which are essential for analyzing genome alterations and mitotic recombination events in this clonal organism.

Dynein-dependent Nuclear Dynamics Affect Morphogenesis in Candida Albicans by Means of the Bub2p Spindle Checkpoint

Journal of Cell Science. Feb, 2008  |  Pubmed ID: 18211963

Candida albicans, the most prevalent fungal pathogen of humans, grows with multiple morphologies. The dynamics of nuclear movement are similar in wild-type yeast and pseudohyphae: nuclei divide across the bud neck. By contrast, in hyphae, nuclei migrate 10-20 microm into the growing germ tube before dividing. We analyzed the role of the dynein-dynactin complex in hyphal and yeast cells using time-lapse fluorescence microscopy. Cells lacking the heavy chain of cytoplasmic dynein or the p150(Glued) subunit of dynactin were defective in the position and orientation of the spindle. Hyphal cells often failed to deliver a nucleus to the daughter cell, resulting in defects in morphogenesis. Under yeast growth conditions, cultures included a mixture of yeast and pseudohyphal-like cells that exhibited distinctive defects in nuclear dynamics: in yeast, nuclei divided within the mother cell, and the spindle position checkpoint protein Bub2p ensured the delivery of the daughter nucleus to the daughter cell before cytokinesis; in pseudohyphal-like cells, pre-mitotic nuclei migrated into the daughter and no checkpoint ensured return of a nucleus to the mother cell before cytokinesis. Analysis of double mutants indicated that Bub2p also mediated the pre-anaphase arrest and polarization of pseudohyphal-like cells. Thus, Bub2p has two distinct roles in C. albicans cells lacking dynein: it mediates pre-anaphase arrest and it coordinates spindle disassembly with mitotic exit.

An Isochromosome Confers Drug Resistance in Vivo by Amplification of Two Genes, ERG11 and TAC1

Molecular Microbiology. May, 2008  |  Pubmed ID: 18363649

Acquired azole resistance is a serious clinical problem that is often associated with the appearance of aneuploidy and, in particular, with the formation of an isochromosome [i(5L)] in the fungal opportunist Candida albicans. Here we exploited a series of isolates from an individual patient during the rapid acquisition of fluconazole resistance (Flu(R)). Comparative genome hybridization arrays revealed that the presence of two extra copies of Chr5L, on the isochromosome, conferred increased Flu(R) and that partial truncation of Chr5L reduced Flu(R). In vitro analysis of the strains by telomere-mediated truncations and by gene deletion assessed the contribution of all Chr5L genes and of four specific genes. Importantly, ERG11 (encoding the drug target) and a hyperactive allele of TAC1 (encoding a transcriptional regulator of drug efflux pumps) made independent, additive contributions to Flu(R) in a gene copy number-dependent manner that was not different from the contributions of the entire Chr5L arm. Thus, the major mechanism by which i(5L) formation causes increased azole resistance is by amplifying two genes: ERG11 and TAC1.

The Parasexual Cycle in Candida Albicans Provides an Alternative Pathway to Meiosis for the Formation of Recombinant Strains

PLoS Biology. May, 2008  |  Pubmed ID: 18462019

Candida albicans has an elaborate, yet efficient, mating system that promotes conjugation between diploid a and alpha strains. The product of mating is a tetraploid a/alpha cell that must undergo a reductional division to return to the diploid state. Despite the presence of several "meiosis-specific" genes in the C. albicans genome, a meiotic program has not been observed. Instead, tetraploid products of mating can be induced to undergo efficient, random chromosome loss, often producing strains that are diploid, or close to diploid, in ploidy. Using SNP and comparative genome hybridization arrays we have now analyzed the genotypes of products from the C. albicans parasexual cycle. We show that the parasexual cycle generates progeny strains with shuffled combinations of the eight C. albicans chromosomes. In addition, several isolates had undergone extensive genetic recombination between homologous chromosomes, including multiple gene conversion events. Progeny strains exhibited altered colony morphologies on laboratory media, demonstrating that the parasexual cycle generates phenotypic variants of C. albicans. In several fungi, including Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Schizosaccharomyces pombe, the conserved Spo11 protein is integral to meiotic recombination, where it is required for the formation of DNA double-strand breaks. We show that deletion of SPO11 prevented genetic recombination between homologous chromosomes during the C. albicans parasexual cycle. These findings suggest that at least one meiosis-specific gene has been re-programmed to mediate genetic recombination during the alternative parasexual life cycle of C. albicans. We discuss, in light of the long association of C. albicans with warm-blooded animals, the potential advantages of a parasexual cycle over a conventional sexual cycle.

Molecular Architecture of the Kinetochore-microtubule Attachment Site is Conserved Between Point and Regional Centromeres

The Journal of Cell Biology. May, 2008  |  Pubmed ID: 18474626

Point and regional centromeres specify a unique site on each chromosome for kinetochore assembly. The point centromere in budding yeast is a unique 150-bp DNA sequence, which supports a kinetochore with only one microtubule attachment. In contrast, regional centromeres are complex in architecture, can be up to 5 Mb in length, and typically support many kinetochore-microtubule attachments. We used quantitative fluorescence microscopy to count the number of core structural kinetochore protein complexes at the regional centromeres in fission yeast and Candida albicans. We find that the number of CENP-A nucleosomes at these centromeres reflects the number of kinetochore-microtubule attachments instead of their length. The numbers of kinetochore protein complexes per microtubule attachment are nearly identical to the numbers in a budding yeast kinetochore. These findings reveal that kinetochores with multiple microtubule attachments are mainly built by repeating a conserved structural subunit that is equivalent to a single microtubule attachment site.

Neocentromeres Form Efficiently at Multiple Possible Loci in Candida Albicans

PLoS Genetics. Mar, 2009  |  Pubmed ID: 19266018

Centromeres are critically important for chromosome stability and integrity. Most eukaryotes have regional centromeres that include long tracts of repetitive DNA packaged into pericentric heterochromatin. Neocentromeres, new sites of functional kinetochore assembly, can form at ectopic loci because no DNA sequence is strictly required for assembly of a functional kinetochore. In humans, neocentromeres often arise in cells with gross chromosome rearrangements that rescue an acentric chromosome. Here, we studied the properties of centromeres in Candida albicans, the most prevalent fungal pathogen of humans, which has small regional centromeres that lack pericentric heterochromatin. We functionally delimited centromere DNA on Chromosome 5 (CEN5) and then replaced the entire region with the counter-selectable URA3 gene or other marker genes. All of the resulting cen5Delta::URA3 transformants stably retained both copies of Chr5, indicating that a functional neocentromere had assembled efficiently on the homolog lacking CEN5 DNA. Strains selected to maintain only the cen5Delta::URA3 homolog and no wild-type Chr5 homolog also grew well, indicating that neocentromere function is independent of the presence of any wild-type CEN5 DNA. Two classes of neocentromere (neoCEN) strains were distinguishable: "proximal neoCEN" and "distal neoCEN" strains. Neocentromeres in the distal neoCEN strains formed at loci about 200-450 kb from cen5Delta::URA3 on either chromosome arm, as detected by massively parallel sequencing of DNA isolated by CENP-A(Cse4p) chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP). In the proximal neoCEN strains, the neocentromeres formed directly adjacent to cen5Delta::URA3 and moved onto the URA3 DNA, resulting in silencing of its expression. Functional neocentromeres form efficiently at several possible loci that share properties of low gene density and flanking repeated DNA sequences. Subsequently, neocentromeres can move locally, which can be detected by silencing of an adjacent URA3 gene, or can relocate to entirely different regions of the chromosome. The ability to select for neocentromere formation and movement in C. albicans permits mechanistic analysis of the assembly and maintenance of a regional centromere.

Evolution in Candida Albicans Populations During a Single Passage Through a Mouse Host

Genetics. Jul, 2009  |  Pubmed ID: 19414562

The mechanisms and rates by which genotypic and phenotypic variation is generated in opportunistic, eukaryotic pathogens during growth in hosts are not well understood. We evaluated genomewide genetic and phenotypic evolution in Candida albicans, an opportunistic fungal pathogen of humans, during passage through a mouse host (in vivo) and during propagation in liquid culture (in vitro). We found slower population growth and higher rates of chromosome-level genetic variation in populations passaged in vivo relative to those grown in vitro. Interestingly, the distribution of long-range loss of heterozygosity (LOH) and chromosome rearrangement events across the genome differed for the two growth environments, while rates of short-range LOH were comparable for in vivo and in vitro populations. Further, for the in vivo populations, there was a positive correlation of cells demonstrating genetic alterations and variation in colony growth and morphology. For in vitro populations, no variation in growth phenotypes was detected. Together, our results demonstrate that passage through a living host leads to slower growth and higher rates of genomic and phenotypic variation compared to in vitro populations. Results suggest that the dynamics of population growth and genomewide rearrangement contribute to the maintenance of a commensal and opportunistic life history of C. albicans.

Evolution of Pathogenicity and Sexual Reproduction in Eight Candida Genomes

Nature. Jun, 2009  |  Pubmed ID: 19465905

Candida species are the most common cause of opportunistic fungal infection worldwide. Here we report the genome sequences of six Candida species and compare these and related pathogens and non-pathogens. There are significant expansions of cell wall, secreted and transporter gene families in pathogenic species, suggesting adaptations associated with virulence. Large genomic tracts are homozygous in three diploid species, possibly resulting from recent recombination events. Surprisingly, key components of the mating and meiosis pathways are missing from several species. These include major differences at the mating-type loci (MTL); Lodderomyces elongisporus lacks MTL, and components of the a1/2 cell identity determinant were lost in other species, raising questions about how mating and cell types are controlled. Analysis of the CUG leucine-to-serine genetic-code change reveals that 99% of ancestral CUG codons were erased and new ones arose elsewhere. Lastly, we revise the Candida albicans gene catalogue, identifying many new genes.

Additional Cassettes for Epitope and Fluorescent Fusion Proteins in Candida Albicans

Yeast (Chichester, England). Jul, 2009  |  Pubmed ID: 19504625

Epitope tags that confer specific properties, including affinity for resins or antibodies or detection by fluorescence microscopy, are highly useful for biochemical and cell biological investigations. In Candida albicans and several other related yeasts, the CUG codon specifies serine instead of leucine, requiring that molecular tools be customized for use in this important human fungal pathogen. Here we report the construction of a set of plasmids containing 13-Myc, 3HA, GST, V5 or His9 epitope cassettes that facilitate PCR-mediated construction of epitope-tagged proteins. Common primer sets amplify the different tags with two different selectable markers. In addition, we report construction of a codon-optimized Discosoma red fluorescent protein (DsRFP) gene. Like mCherryRFP, this DsRFP signal is detectable in transformants at the colony level and is useful in double-labelling experiments with green fluorescent protein (GFP). Finally, we describe a construct that directs PCR-mediated two-step insertion of GFP internal to a coding sequence, which facilitates tagging of secreted proteins, including GPI-anchor cell wall proteins that require endogenous N- and C-termini for function. These reagents expand the repertoire of molecular tools available for working with C. albicans and other members of the CUG clade of pathogenic yeasts.

Efficient and Rapid Identification of Candida Albicans Allelic Status Using SNP-RFLP

FEMS Yeast Research. Oct, 2009  |  Pubmed ID: 19622074

Candida albicans is the most prevalent opportunistic fungal pathogen in the clinical setting, causing a wide spectrum of diseases ranging from superficial mucosal lesions to life-threatening deep-tissue infections. Recent studies provide strong evidence that C. albicans possesses an arsenal of genetic mechanisms promoting genome plasticity and that it uses these mechanisms under conditions of nutritional or antifungal drug stress. Two microarray-based methods, single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and comparative genome hybridization arrays, have been developed to study genome changes in C. albicans. However, array technologies can be relatively expensive and are not available to every laboratory. In addition, they often generate more data than needed to analyze specific genomic loci or regions. Here, we have developed a set of SNP-restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) (or PCR-RFLP) markers, two per chromosome arm, for C. albicans. These markers can be used to rapidly and accurately detect large-scale changes in the C. albicans genome including loss of heterozygosity (LOH) at single loci, across chromosome arms or across whole chromosomes. Furthermore, skewed SNP-RFLP allelic ratios are indicative of trisomy at heterozygous loci. While less comprehensive than array-based approaches, we propose SNP-RFLP as an inexpensive, rapid, and reliable method to screen strains of interest for possible genome changes.

Aneuploid Chromosomes Are Highly Unstable During DNA Transformation of Candida Albicans

Eukaryotic Cell. Oct, 2009  |  Pubmed ID: 19700634

Candida albicans strains tolerate aneuploidy, historically detected as karyotype alterations by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis and more recently revealed by array comparative genome hybridization, which provides a comprehensive and detailed description of gene copy number. Here, we first retrospectively analyzed 411 expression array experiments to predict the frequency of aneuploidy in different strains. As expected, significant levels of aneuploidy were seen in strains exposed to stress conditions, including UV light and/or sorbose treatment, as well as in strains that are resistant to antifungal drugs. More surprisingly, strains that underwent transformation with DNA displayed the highest frequency of chromosome copy number changes, with strains that were initially aneuploid exhibiting approximately 3-fold more copy number changes than strains that were initially diploid. We then prospectively analyzed the effect of lithium acetate (LiOAc) transformation protocols on the stability of trisomic chromosomes. Consistent with the retrospective analysis, the proportion of karyotype changes was highly elevated in strains carrying aneuploid chromosomes. We then tested the hypothesis that stresses conferred by heat and/or LiOAc exposure promote chromosome number changes during DNA transformation procedures. Indeed, a short pulse of very high temperature caused frequent gains and losses of multiple chromosomes or chromosome segments. Furthermore, milder heat exposure over longer periods caused increased levels of loss of heterozygosity. Nonetheless, aneuploid chromosomes were also unstable when strains were transformed by electroporation, which does not include a heat shock step. Thus, aneuploid strains are particularly prone to undergo changes in chromosome number during the stresses of DNA transformation protocols.

SLA2 Mutations Cause SWE1-mediated Cell Cycle Phenotypes in Candida Albicans and Saccharomyces Cerevisiae

Microbiology (Reading, England). Dec, 2009  |  Pubmed ID: 19778960

The early endocytic patch protein Sla2 is important for morphogenesis and growth rates in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Candida albicans, but the mechanism that connects these processes is not clear. Here we report that growth defects in cells lacking CaSLA2 or ScSLA2 are associated with a cell cycle delay that is influenced by Swe1, a morphogenesis checkpoint kinase. To establish how Swe1 monitors Sla2 function, we compared actin organization and cell cycle dynamics in strains lacking other components of early endocytic patches (Sla1 and Abp1) with those in strains lacking Sla2. Only sla2 strains had defects in actin cables, a known trigger of the morphogenesis checkpoint, yet all three strains exhibited Swe1-dependent phenotypes. Thus, Swe1 appears to monitor actin patch in addition to actin cable function. Furthermore, Swe1 contributed to virulence in a mouse model of disseminated candidiasis, implying a role for the morphogenesis checkpoint during the pathogenesis of C. albicans infections.

Acquisition of Aneuploidy Provides Increased Fitness During the Evolution of Antifungal Drug Resistance

PLoS Genetics. Oct, 2009  |  Pubmed ID: 19876375

The evolution of drug resistance is an important process that affects clinical outcomes. Resistance to fluconazole, the most widely used antifungal, is often associated with acquired aneuploidy. Here we provide a longitudinal study of the prevalence and dynamics of gross chromosomal rearrangements, including aneuploidy, in the presence and absence of fluconazole during a well-controlled in vitro evolution experiment using Candida albicans, the most prevalent human fungal pathogen. While no aneuploidy was detected in any of the no-drug control populations, in all fluconazole-treated populations analyzed an isochromosome 5L [i(5L)] appeared soon after drug exposure. This isochromosome was associated with increased fitness in the presence of drug and, over time, became fixed in independent populations. In two separate cases, larger supernumerary chromosomes composed of i(5L) attached to an intact chromosome or chromosome fragment formed during exposure to the drug. Other aneuploidies, particularly trisomies of the smaller chromosomes (Chr3-7), appeared throughout the evolution experiment, and the accumulation of multiple aneuploid chromosomes per cell coincided with the highest resistance to fluconazole. Unlike the case in many other organisms, some isolates carrying i(5L) exhibited improved fitness in the presence, as well as in the absence, of fluconazole. The early appearance of aneuploidy is consistent with a model in which C. albicans becomes more permissive of chromosome rearrangements and segregation defects in the presence of fluconazole.

Growth and Development: Eukaryotes

Current Opinion in Microbiology. Dec, 2009  |  Pubmed ID: 19889571

Dancing Genomes: Fungal Nuclear Positioning

Nature Reviews. Microbiology. Dec, 2009  |  Pubmed ID: 19898490

The many different mechanisms that fungi use to transmit and share genetic material are mediated by a broad range of chromosome and nuclear dynamics. The mechanics underlying nuclear migration are well integrated into detailed models, in which the forces supplied by plus- and minus-end-directed microtubule motors position and move the nucleus in a cell. Although we know much about how cells move nuclei, we know much less about why the cell invests in so many different nuclear 'dances'. Here, we briefly survey the available models for the mechanics of nuclear migration in fungi and then focus on examples of how fungal cells use these nuclear dances - the movement of intact nuclei in and between cells - to control the integrity, ploidy and assortment of specific genomes or individual chromosomes.

Genomic Plasticity of the Human Fungal Pathogen Candida Albicans

Eukaryotic Cell. Jul, 2010  |  Pubmed ID: 20495058

The genomic plasticity of Candida albicans, a commensal and common opportunistic fungal pathogen, continues to reveal unexpected surprises. Once thought to be asexual, we now know that the organism can generate genetic diversity through several mechanisms, including mating between cells of the opposite or of the same mating type and by a parasexual reduction in chromosome number that can be accompanied by recombination events (2, 12, 14, 53, 77, 115). In addition, dramatic genome changes can appear quite rapidly in mitotic cells propagated in vitro as well as in vivo. The detection of aneuploidy in other fungal pathogens isolated directly from patients (145) and from environmental samples (71) suggests that variations in chromosome organization and copy number are a common mechanism used by pathogenic fungi to rapidly generate diversity in response to stressful growth conditions, including, but not limited to, antifungal drug exposure. Since cancer cells often become polyploid and/or aneuploid, some of the lessons learned from studies of genome plasticity in C. albicans may provide important insights into how these processes occur in higher-eukaryotic cells exposed to stresses such as anticancer drugs.

Low Dosage of Histone H4 Leads to Growth Defects and Morphological Changes in Candida Albicans

PloS One. May, 2010  |  Pubmed ID: 20498713

Chromatin function depends on adequate histone stoichiometry. Alterations in histone dosage affect transcription and chromosome segregation, leading to growth defects and aneuploidies. In the fungal pathogen Candida albicans, aneuploidy formation is associated with antifungal resistance and pathogenesis. Histone modifying enzymes and chromatin remodeling proteins are also required for pathogenesis. However, little is known about the mechanisms that generate aneuploidies or about the epigenetic mechanisms that shape the response of C. albicans to the host environment. Here, we determined the impact of histone H4 deficit in the growth and colony morphology of C. albicans. We found that C. albicans requires at least two of the four alleles that code for histone H4 (HHF1 and HHF22) to grow normally. Strains with only one histone H4 allele show a severe growth defect and unstable colony morphology, and produce faster-growing, morphologically stable suppressors. Segmental or whole chromosomal trisomies that increased wild-type histone H4 copy number were the preferred mechanism of suppression. This is the first study of a core nucleosomal histone in C. albicans, and constitutes the prelude to future, more detailed research on the function of histone H4 in this important fungal pathogen.

Epigenetically-inherited Centromere and Neocentromere DNA Replicates Earliest in S-phase

PLoS Genetics. Aug, 2010  |  Pubmed ID: 20808889

Eukaryotic centromeres are maintained at specific chromosomal sites over many generations. In the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, centromeres are genetic elements defined by a DNA sequence that is both necessary and sufficient for function; whereas, in most other eukaryotes, centromeres are maintained by poorly characterized epigenetic mechanisms in which DNA has a less definitive role. Here we use the pathogenic yeast Candida albicans as a model organism to study the DNA replication properties of centromeric DNA. By determining the genome-wide replication timing program of the C. albicans genome, we discovered that each centromere is associated with a replication origin that is the first to fire on its respective chromosome. Importantly, epigenetic formation of new ectopic centromeres (neocentromeres) was accompanied by shifts in replication timing, such that a neocentromere became the first to replicate and became associated with origin recognition complex (ORC) components. Furthermore, changing the level of the centromere-specific histone H3 isoform led to a concomitant change in levels of ORC association with centromere regions, further supporting the idea that centromere proteins determine origin activity. Finally, analysis of centromere-associated DNA revealed a replication-dependent sequence pattern characteristic of constitutively active replication origins. This strand-biased pattern is conserved, together with centromere position, among related strains and species, in a manner independent of primary DNA sequence. Thus, inheritance of centromere position is correlated with a constitutively active origin of replication that fires at a distinct early time. We suggest a model in which the distinct timing of DNA replication serves as an epigenetic mechanism for the inheritance of centromere position.

Evolutionary Genomics: When Abnormality is Beneficial

Nature. Nov, 2010  |  Pubmed ID: 21068824

CaMtw1, a Member of the Evolutionarily Conserved Mis12 Kinetochore Protein Family, is Required for Efficient Inner Kinetochore Assembly in the Pathogenic Yeast Candida Albicans

Molecular Microbiology. Apr, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21276093

Proper assembly of the kinetochore, a multi-protein complex that mediates attachment of centromere DNA to spindle microtubules on each chromosome, is required for faithful chromosome segregation. Each previously characterized member of the Mis12/Mtw1 protein family is part of an essential subcomplex in the kinetochore. In this work, we identify and characterize CaMTW1, which encodes the homologue of the human Mis12 protein in the pathogenic budding yeast Candida albicans. Subcellular localization and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays confirmed CaMtw1 is a kinetochore protein. CaMtw1 is essential for viability. CaMtw1-depleted cells and cells in which CaMtw1 was inactivated with a temperature-sensitive mutation had reduced viability, accumulated at the G2/M stage of the cell cycle, and exhibited increased chromosome missegregation. CaMtw1 depletion also affected spindle length and alignment. Interestingly, in C. albicans, CaMtw1 and the centromeric histone, CaCse4, influence each other for kinetochore localization. In addition, CaMtw1 is required for efficient kinetochore recruitment of another inner kinetochore protein, the CENP-C homologue, CaMif2. Mis12/Mtw1 proteins have well-established roles in the recruitment and maintenance of outer kinetochore proteins. We propose that Mis12/Mtw1 proteins also have important co-dependent interactions with inner kinetochore proteins and that these interactions may increase the fidelity of kinetochore formation.

The Requirement for the Dam1 Complex is Dependent Upon the Number of Kinetochore Proteins and Microtubules

Current Biology : CB. May, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21549601

The Dam1 complex attaches the kinetochore to spindle microtubules and is a processivity factor in vitro. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which has point centromeres that attach to a single microtubule, deletion of any Dam1 complex member results in chromosome segregation failures and cell death. In Schizosaccharomyces pombe, which has epigenetically defined regional centromeres that each attach to 3-5 kinetochore microtubules, Dam1 complex homologs are not essential. To determine why the complex is essential in some organisms and not in others, we used Candida albicans, a multimorphic yeast with regional centromeres that attach to a single microtubule. Interestingly, the Dam1 complex was essential in C. albicans, suggesting that the number of microtubules per centromere is critical for its requirement. Importantly, by increasing CENP-A expression levels, more kinetochore proteins and microtubules were recruited to the centromeres, which remained fully functional. Furthermore, Dam1 complex members became less crucial for growth in cells with extra kinetochore proteins and microtubules. Thus, the requirement for the Dam1 complex is not due to the DNA-specific nature of point centromeres. Rather, the Dam1 complex is less critical when chromosomes have multiple kinetochore complexes and microtubules per centromere, implying that it functions as a processivity factor in vivo as well as in vitro.

Skin-resident Murine Dendritic Cell Subsets Promote Distinct and Opposing Antigen-specific T Helper Cell Responses

Immunity. Aug, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21782478

Skin-resident dendritic cells (DCs) are well positioned to encounter cutaneous pathogens and are required for the initiation of adaptive immune responses. There are at least three subsets of skin DC- Langerhans cells (LC), Langerin(+) dermal DCs (dDCs), and classic dDCs. Whether these subsets have distinct or redundant function in vivo is poorly understood. Using a Candida albicans skin infection model, we have shown that direct presentation of antigen by LC is necessary and sufficient for the generation of antigen-specific T helper-17 (Th17) cells but not for the generation of cytotoxic lymphocytes (CTLs). In contrast, Langerin(+) dDCs are required for the generation of antigen specific CTL and Th1 cells. Langerin(+) dDCs also inhibited the ability of LCs and classic DCs to promote Th17 cell responses. This work demonstrates that skin-resident DC subsets promote distinct and opposing antigen-specific responses.

Evolutionary Dynamics of Candida Albicans During in Vitro Evolution

Eukaryotic Cell. Nov, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21890821

While mechanisms of resistance to major antifungal agents have been characterized in Candida albicans, little is known about the evolutionary trajectories during the emergence of drug resistance. Here, we examined the evolutionary dynamics of C. albicans that evolved in vitro in the presence or absence of fluconazole using the visualizing evolution in real-time (VERT) method, a novel experimental approach that facilitates the systematic isolation of adaptive mutants that arise in the population. We found an increase in the frequency of adaptive events in the presence of fluconazole compared to the no-drug controls. Analysis of the evolutionary dynamics revealed that mutations that led to increased drug resistance appeared frequently and that mutants with increased levels of resistance arose in independent lineages. Interestingly, most adaptive mutants with increased fitness in the presence of the drug did not exhibit a significant fitness decrease in the absence of the drug, supporting the idea that rapid resistance can arise from mutations in strains maintained in the population prior to exposure to the drug.

High-Resolution SNP/CGH Microarrays Reveal the Accumulation of Loss of Heterozygosity in Commonly Used Candida Albicans Strains

G3 (Bethesda, Md.). Dec, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 22384363

Phenotypic diversity can arise rapidly through loss of heterozygosity (LOH) or by the acquisition of copy number variations (CNV) spanning whole chromosomes or shorter contiguous chromosome segments. In Candida albicans, a heterozygous diploid yeast pathogen with no known meiotic cycle, homozygosis and aneuploidy alter clinical characteristics, including drug resistance. Here, we developed a high-resolution microarray that simultaneously detects ∼39,000 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) alleles and ∼20,000 copy number variation loci across the C. albicans genome. An important feature of the array analysis is a computational pipeline that determines SNP allele ratios based upon chromosome copy number. Using the array and analysis tools, we constructed a haplotype map (hapmap) of strain SC5314 to assign SNP alleles to specific homologs, and we used it to follow the acquisition of loss of heterozygosity (LOH) and copy number changes in a series of derived laboratory strains. This high-resolution SNP/CGH microarray and the associated hapmap facilitated the phasing of alleles in lab strains and revealed detrimental genome changes that arose frequently during molecular manipulations of laboratory strains. Furthermore, it provided a useful tool for rapid, high-resolution, and cost-effective characterization of changes in allele diversity as well as changes in chromosome copy number in new C. albicans isolates.

Does Stress Induce (para)sex? Implications for Candida Albicans Evolution

Trends in Genetics : TIG. May, 2012  |  Pubmed ID: 22364928

Theory predicts that stress is a key factor in explaining the evolutionary role of sex in facultatively sexual organisms, including microorganisms. Organisms capable of reproducing both sexually and asexually are expected to mate more frequently when stressed, and such stress-induced mating is predicted to facilitate adaptation. Here, we propose that stress has an analogous effect on the parasexual cycle in Candida albicans, which involves alternation of generations between diploid and tetraploid cells. The parasexual cycle can generate high levels of diversity, including aneuploidy, yet it apparently occurs only rarely in nature. We review the evidence that stress facilitates four major steps in the parasexual cycle and suggest that parasex occurs much more frequently under stress conditions. This may explain both the evolutionary significance of parasex and its apparent rarity.

Flexibility of Centromere and Kinetochore Structures

Trends in Genetics : TIG. May, 2012  |  Pubmed ID: 22445183

Centromeres, and the kinetochores that assemble on them, are essential for accurate chromosome segregation. Diverse centromere organization patterns and kinetochore structures have evolved in eukaryotes ranging from yeast to humans. In addition, centromere DNA and kinetochore position can vary even within individual cells. This flexibility is manifested in several ways: centromere DNA sequences evolve rapidly, kinetochore positions shift in response to altered chromosome structure, and kinetochore complex numbers change in response to fluctuations in kinetochore protein levels. Despite their differences, all of these diverse structures promote efficient chromosome segregation. This robustness is inherent to chromosome segregation mechanisms and balances genome stability with adaptability. In this review, we explore the mechanisms and consequences of centromere and kinetochore flexibility as well as the benefits and limitations of different experimental model systems for their study.

Neocentromeres and Epigenetically Inherited Features of Centromeres

Chromosome Research : an International Journal on the Molecular, Supramolecular and Evolutionary Aspects of Chromosome Biology. Jul, 2012  |  Pubmed ID: 22723125

Neocentromeres are ectopic sites where new functional kinetochores assemble and permit chromosome segregation. Neocentromeres usually form following genomic alterations that remove or disrupt centromere function. The ability to form neocentromeres is conserved in eukaryotes ranging from fungi to mammals. Neocentromeres that rescue chromosome fragments in cells with gross chromosomal rearrangements are found in several types of human cancers, and in patients with developmental disabilities. In this review, we discuss the importance of neocentromeres to human health and evaluate recently developed model systems to study neocentromere formation, maintenance, and function in chromosome segregation. Additionally, studies of neocentromeres provide insight into native centromeres; analysis of neocentromeres found in human clinical samples and induced in model organisms distinguishes features of centromeres that are dependent on centromere DNA from features that are epigenetically inherited together with the formation of a functional kinetochore.

Analysis of Protein Function in Clinical C. Albicans Isolates

Yeast (Chichester, England). Aug, 2012  |  Pubmed ID: 22777821

Clinical isolates are prototrophic and hence are not amenable to genetic manipulation using nutritional markers. Here we describe a new set of plasmids carrying the NAT1 (nourseothricin) drug resistance marker (Shen et al., ), which can be used both in clinical isolates and in laboratory strains. We constructed novel plasmids containing HA-NAT1 or MYC-NAT1 cassettes to facilitate PCR-mediated construction of strains with C-terminal epitope-tagged proteins and a NAT1-pMet3-GFP plasmid to enable conditional expression of proteins with or without the green fluorescent protein fused at the N-terminus. Furthermore, for proteins that require both the endogenous N- and C-termini for function, we have constructed a GF-NAT1-FP cassette carrying truncated alleles that facilitate insertion of an intact, single copy of GFP internal to the coding sequence. In addition, GFP-NAT1, RFP-NAT1 and M-Cherry-NAT1 plasmids were constructed, expressing two differently labelled gene products for the study of protein co-expression and co-localization in vivo. Together, these vectors provide a useful set of genetic tools for studying diverse aspects of gene function in both clinical and laboratory strains of C. albicans.

Cell-cycle-coupled Structural Oscillation of Centromeric Nucleosomes in Yeast

Cell. Jul, 2012  |  Pubmed ID: 22817893

The centromere is a specialized chromosomal structure that regulates chromosome segregation. Centromeres are marked by a histone H3 variant. In budding yeast, the histone H3 variant Cse4 is present in a single centromeric nucleosome. Experimental evidence supports several different models for the structure of centromeric nucleosomes. To investigate Cse4 copy number in live yeast, we developed a method coupling fluorescence correlation spectroscopy and calibrated imaging. We find that centromeric nucleosomes have one copy of Cse4 during most of the cell cycle, whereas two copies are detected at anaphase. The proposal of an anaphase-coupled structural change is supported by Cse4-Cse4 interactions, incorporation of Cse4, and the absence of Scm3 in anaphase. Nucleosome reconstitution and ChIP suggests both Cse4 structures contain H2A/H2B. The increase in Cse4 intensity and deposition at anaphase are also observed in Candida albicans. Our experimental evidence supports a cell-cycle-coupled oscillation of centromeric nucleosome structure in yeast.

Candida Albicans

Current Biology : CB. Aug, 2012  |  Pubmed ID: 22917504

The Three Clades of the Telomere-associated TLO Gene Family of Candida Albicans Have Different Splicing, Localization, and Expression Features

Eukaryotic Cell. Oct, 2012  |  Pubmed ID: 22923044

Candida albicans grows within a wide range of host niches, and this adaptability enhances its success as a commensal and as a pathogen. The telomere-associated TLO gene family underwent a recent expansion from one or two copies in other CUG clade members to 14 expressed copies in C. albicans. This correlates with increased virulence and clinical prevalence relative to those of other Candida clade species. The 14 expressed TLO gene family members have a conserved Med2 domain at the N terminus, suggesting a role in general transcription. The C-terminal half is more divergent, distinguishing three clades: clade α and clade β have no introns and encode proteins that localize primarily to the nucleus; clade γ sometimes undergoes splicing, and the gene products localize within the mitochondria as well as the nuclei. Additionally, TLOα genes are generally expressed at much higher levels than are TLOγ genes. We propose that expansion of the TLO gene family and the predicted role of Tlo proteins in transcription regulation provide C. albicans with the ability to adapt rapidly to the broad range of different environmental niches within the human host.

Shuttle Vectors for Facile Gap Repair Cloning and Integration into a Neutral Locus in Candida Albicans

Microbiology (Reading, England). Mar, 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 23306673

Candida albicans is the most prevalent fungal pathogen of humans. The current techniques used to construct C. albicans strains require integration of exogenous DNA at ectopic locations, which can exert position effects on gene expression that can confound the interpretation of data from critical experiments such as virulence assays. We have identified a large intergenic region, NEUT5L, which facilitates the integration and expression of ectopic genes. To construct and integrate inserts into this novel locus, we re-engineered yeast/bacterial shuttle vectors by incorporating 550 bp of homology to NEUT5L. These vectors allow rapid, facile cloning through in vivo recombination (gap repair) in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and efficient integration of the construct into the NEUT5L locus. Other useful features of these vectors include a choice of three selectable markers (URA3, the recyclable URA3-dpl200 or NAT1), and rare restriction enzyme recognition sites for releasing the insert from the vector prior to transformation into C. albicans, thereby reducing the insert size and preventing integration of non-C. albicans DNA. Importantly, unlike the commonly used RPS1/RP10 locus, integration at NEUT5L has no negative effect on growth rates and allows native-locus expression levels, making it an ideal genomic locus for the integration of exogenous DNA in C. albicans.

The 'obligate Diploid' Candida Albicans Forms Mating-competent Haploids

Nature. Feb, 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 23364695

Candida albicans, the most prevalent human fungal pathogen, is considered to be an obligate diploid that carries recessive lethal mutations throughout the genome. Here we demonstrate that C. albicans has a viable haploid state that can be derived from diploid cells under in vitro and in vivo conditions, and that seems to arise through a concerted chromosome loss mechanism. Haploids undergo morphogenetic changes like those of diploids, including the yeast-hyphal transition, chlamydospore formation and a white-opaque switch that facilitates mating. Haploid opaque cells of opposite mating type mate efficiently to regenerate the diploid form, restoring heterozygosity and fitness. Homozygous diploids arise spontaneously by auto-diploidization, and both haploids and auto-diploids show a similar reduction in fitness, in vitro and in vivo, relative to heterozygous diploids, indicating that homozygous cell types are transient in mixed populations. Finally, we constructed stable haploid strains with multiple auxotrophies that will facilitate molecular and genetic analyses of this important pathogen.

Monopolin Recruits Condensin to Organize Centromere DNA and Repetitive DNA Sequences

Molecular Biology of the Cell. Sep, 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 23885115

The establishment and maintenance of higher-order structure at centromeres is essential for accurate chromosome segregation. The monopolin complex is thought to cross-link multiple kinetochore complexes to prevent merotelic attachments that result in chromosome missegregation. This model is based on structural analysis and the requirement that monopolin execute mitotic and meiotic chromosome segregation in Schizosaccharomyces pombe, which has more than one kinetochore-microtubule attachment/centromere, and co-orient sister chromatids in meiosis I in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Recent data from S. pombe suggest an alternative possibility: that the recruitment of condensin is the primary function of monopolin. Here we test these models using the yeast Candida albicans. C. albicans cells lacking monopolin exhibit defects in chromosome segregation, increased distance between centromeres, and decreased stability of several types of repeat DNA. Of note, changing kinetochore-microtubule copy number from one to more than one kinetochore-microtubule/centromere does not alter the requirement for monopolin. Furthermore, monopolin recruits condensin to C. albicans centromeres, and overexpression of condensin suppresses chromosome segregation defects in strains lacking monopolin. We propose that the key function of monopolin is to recruit condensin in order to promote the assembly of higher-order structure at centromere and repetitive DNA.

A Tetraploid Intermediate Precedes Aneuploid Formation in Yeasts Exposed to Fluconazole

PLoS Biology. Mar, 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 24642609

Candida albicans, the most prevalent human fungal pathogen, is generally diploid. However, 50% of isolates that are resistant to fluconazole (FLC), the most widely used antifungal, are aneuploid and some aneuploidies can confer FLC resistance. To ask if FLC exposure causes or only selects for aneuploidy, we analyzed diploid strains during exposure to FLC using flow cytometry and epifluorescence microscopy. FLC exposure caused a consistent deviation from normal cell cycle regulation: nuclear and spindle cycles initiated prior to bud emergence, leading to "trimeras," three connected cells composed of a mother, daughter, and granddaughter bud. Initially binucleate, trimeras underwent coordinated nuclear division yielding four daughter nuclei, two of which underwent mitotic collapse to form a tetraploid cell with extra spindle components. In subsequent cell cycles, the abnormal number of spindles resulted in unequal DNA segregation and viable aneuploid progeny. The process of aneuploid formation in C. albicans is highly reminiscent of early stages in human tumorigenesis in that aneuploidy arises through a tetraploid intermediate and subsequent unequal DNA segregation driven by multiple spindles coupled with a subsequent selective advantage conferred by at least some aneuploidies during growth under stress. Finally, trimera formation was detected in response to other azole antifungals, in related Candida species, and in an in vivo model for Candida infection, suggesting that aneuploids arise due to azole treatment of several pathogenic yeasts and that this can occur during the infection process.

Silencing is Noisy: Population and Cell Level Noise in Telomere-adjacent Genes is Dependent on Telomere Position and Sir2

PLoS Genetics. Jul, 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 25057900

Cell-to-cell gene expression noise is thought to be an important mechanism for generating phenotypic diversity. Furthermore, telomeric regions are major sites for gene amplification, which is thought to drive genetic diversity. Here we found that individual subtelomeric TLO genes exhibit increased variation in transcript and protein levels at both the cell-to-cell level as well as at the population-level. The cell-to-cell variation, termed Telomere-Adjacent Gene Expression Noise (TAGEN) was largely intrinsic noise and was dependent upon genome position: noise was reduced when a TLO gene was expressed at an ectopic internal locus and noise was elevated when a non-telomeric gene was expressed at a telomere-adjacent locus. This position-dependent TAGEN also was dependent on Sir2p, an NAD+-dependent histone deacetylase. Finally, we found that telomere silencing and TAGEN are tightly linked and regulated in cis: selection for either silencing or activation of a TLO-adjacent URA3 gene resulted in reduced noise at the neighboring TLO but not at other TLO genes. This provides experimental support to computational predictions that the ability to shift between silent and active chromatin states has a major effect on cell-to-cell noise. Furthermore, it demonstrates that these shifts affect the degree of expression variation at each telomere individually.

Rapid Mechanisms for Generating Genome Diversity: Whole Ploidy Shifts, Aneuploidy, and Loss of Heterozygosity

Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine. Jul, 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 25081629

Human fungal pathogens can exist in a variety of ploidy states, including euploid and aneuploid forms. Ploidy change has a major impact on phenotypic properties, including the regulation of interactions with the human host. In addition, the rapid emergence of drug-resistant isolates is often associated with the formation of specific supernumerary chromosomes. Pathogens such as Candida albicans and Cryptococcus neoformans appear particularly well adapted for propagation in multiple ploidy states with novel pathways driving ploidy variation. In both species, heterozygous cells also readily undergo loss of heterozygosity (LOH), leading to additional phenotypic changes such as altered drug resistance. Here, we examine the sexual and parasexual cycles that drive ploidy variation in human fungal pathogens and discuss ploidy and LOH events with respect to their far-reaching roles in fungal adaptation and pathogenesis.

Origin Replication Complex Binding, Nucleosome Depletion Patterns, and a Primary Sequence Motif Can Predict Origins of Replication in a Genome with Epigenetic Centromeres

MBio. Sep, 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 25182328

Origins of DNA replication are key genetic elements, yet their identification remains elusive in most organisms. In previous work, we found that centromeres contain origins of replication (ORIs) that are determined epigenetically in the pathogenic yeast Candida albicans. In this study, we used origin recognition complex (ORC) binding and nucleosome occupancy patterns in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Kluyveromyces lactis to train a machine learning algorithm to predict the position of active arm (noncentromeric) origins in the C. albicans genome. The model identified bona fide active origins as determined by the presence of replication intermediates on nondenaturing two-dimensional (2D) gels. Importantly, these origins function at their native chromosomal loci and also as autonomously replicating sequences (ARSs) on a linear plasmid. A "mini-ARS screen" identified at least one and often two ARS regions of ≥100 bp within each bona fide origin. Furthermore, a 15-bp AC-rich consensus motif was associated with the predicted origins and conferred autonomous replicating activity to the mini-ARSs. Thus, while centromeres and the origins associated with them are epigenetic, arm origins are dependent upon critical DNA features, such as a binding site for ORC and a propensity for nucleosome exclusion.

Telomeric ORFs (TLOs) in Candida Spp. Encode Mediator Subunits That Regulate Distinct Virulence Traits

PLoS Genetics. Oct, 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 25356803

The TLO genes are a family of telomere-associated ORFs in the fungal pathogens Candida albicans and C. dubliniensis that encode a subunit of the Mediator complex with homology to Med2. The more virulent pathogen C. albicans has 15 copies of the gene whereas the less pathogenic species C. dubliniensis has only two (CdTLO1 and CdTLO2). In this study we used C. dubliniensis as a model to investigate the role of TLO genes in regulating virulence and also to determine whether TLO paralogs have evolved to regulate distinct functions. A C. dubliniensis tlo1Δ/tlo2Δ mutant is unable to form true hyphae, has longer doubling times in galactose broth, is more susceptible to oxidative stress and forms increased levels of biofilm. Transcript profiling of the tlo1Δ/tlo2Δ mutant revealed increased expression of starvation responses in rich medium and retarded expression of hypha-induced transcripts in serum. ChIP studies indicated that Tlo1 binds to many ORFs including genes that exhibit high and low expression levels under the conditions analyzed. The altered expression of these genes in the tlo1Δ/tlo2Δ null mutant indicates roles for Tlo proteins in transcriptional activation and repression. Complementation of the tlo1Δ/tlo2Δ mutant with TLO1, but not TLO2, restored wild-type filamentous growth, whereas only TLO2 fully suppressed biofilm growth. Complementation with TLO1 also had a greater effect on doubling times in galactose broth. The different abilities of TLO1 and TLO2 to restore wild-type functions was supported by transcript profiling studies that showed that only TLO1 restored expression of hypha-specific genes (UME6, SOD5) and galactose utilisation genes (GAL1 and GAL10), whereas TLO2 restored repression of starvation-induced gene transcription. Thus, Tlo/Med2 paralogs encoding Mediator subunits regulate different virulence properties in Candida spp. and their expansion may account for the increased adaptability of C. albicans relative to other Candida species.

YMAP: a Pipeline for Visualization of Copy Number Variation and Loss of Heterozygosity in Eukaryotic Pathogens

Genome Medicine. 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 25505934

The design of effective antimicrobial therapies for serious eukaryotic pathogens requires a clear understanding of their highly variable genomes. To facilitate analysis of copy number variations, single nucleotide polymorphisms and loss of heterozygosity events in these pathogens, we developed a pipeline for analyzing diverse genome-scale datasets from microarray, deep sequencing, and restriction site associated DNA sequence experiments for clinical and laboratory strains of Candida albicans, the most prevalent human fungal pathogen. The YMAP pipeline (http://lovelace.cs.umn.edu/Ymap/) automatically illustrates genome-wide information in a single intuitive figure and is readily modified for the analysis of other pathogens with small genomes.

Genetic and Phenotypic Intra-species Variation in Candida Albicans

Genome Research. Mar, 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 25504520

Candida albicans is a commensal fungus of the human gastrointestinal tract and a prevalent opportunistic pathogen. To examine diversity within this species, extensive genomic and phenotypic analyses were performed on 21 clinical C. albicans isolates. Genomic variation was evident in the form of polymorphisms, copy number variations, chromosomal inversions, subtelomeric hypervariation, loss of heterozygosity (LOH), and whole or partial chromosome aneuploidies. All 21 strains were diploid, although karyotypic changes were present in eight of the 21 isolates, with multiple strains being trisomic for Chromosome 4 or Chromosome 7. Aneuploid strains exhibited a general fitness defect relative to euploid strains when grown under replete conditions. All strains were also heterozygous, yet multiple, distinct LOH tracts were present in each isolate. Higher overall levels of genome heterozygosity correlated with faster growth rates, consistent with increased overall fitness. Genes with the highest rates of amino acid substitutions included many cell wall proteins, implicating fast evolving changes in cell adhesion and host interactions. One clinical isolate, P94015, presented several striking properties including a novel cellular phenotype, an inability to filament, drug resistance, and decreased virulence. Several of these properties were shown to be due to a homozygous nonsense mutation in the EFG1 gene. Furthermore, loss of EFG1 function resulted in increased fitness of P94015 in a commensal model of infection. Our analysis therefore reveals intra-species genetic and phenotypic differences in C. albicans and delineates a natural mutation that alters the balance between commensalism and pathogenicity.

The Evolution of Drug Resistance in Clinical Isolates of Candida Albicans

ELife. Feb, 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 25646566

Candida albicans is both a member of the healthy human microbiome and a major pathogen in immunocompromised individuals. Infections are typically treated with azole inhibitors of ergosterol biosynthesis often leading to drug resistance. Studies in clinical isolates have implicated multiple mechanisms in resistance, but have focused on large-scale aberrations or candidate genes, and do not comprehensively chart the genetic basis of adaptation. Here, we leveraged next-generation sequencing to analyze 43 isolates from 11 oral candidiasis patients. We detected newly selected mutations, including single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), copy-number variations and loss-of-heterozygosity (LOH) events. LOH events were commonly associated with acquired resistance, and SNPs in 240 genes may be related to host adaptation. Conversely, most aneuploidies were transient and did not correlate with drug resistance. Our analysis also shows that isolates also varied in adherence, filamentation, and virulence. Our work reveals new molecular mechanisms underlying the evolution of drug resistance and host adaptation.

Telomeric ORFS in Candida Albicans: Does Mediator Tail Wag the Yeast?

PLoS Pathogens. Feb, 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 25675446

Targeting the Adaptability of Heterogeneous Aneuploids

Cell. Feb, 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 25679766

Aneuploid genomes, characterized by unbalanced chromosome stoichiometry (karyotype), are associated with cancer malignancy and drug resistance of pathogenic fungi. The phenotypic diversity resulting from karyotypic diversity endows the cell population with superior adaptability. We show here, using a combination of experimental data and a general stochastic model, that the degree of phenotypic variation, thus evolvability, escalates with the degree of overall growth suppression. Such scaling likely explains the challenge of treating aneuploidy diseases with a single stress-inducing agent. Instead, we propose the design of an "evolutionary trap" (ET) targeting both karyotypic diversity and fitness. This strategy entails a selective condition "channeling" a karyotypically divergent population into one with a predominant and predictably drugable karyotypic feature. We provide a proof-of-principle case in budding yeast and demonstrate the potential efficacy of this strategy toward aneuploidy-based azole resistance in Candida albicans. By analyzing existing pharmacogenomics data, we propose the potential design of an ET against glioblastoma.

Candida Albicans Morphology and Dendritic Cell Subsets Determine T Helper Cell Differentiation

Immunity. Feb, 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 25680275

Candida albicans is a dimorphic fungus responsible for chronic mucocutaneous and systemic infections. Mucocutaneous immunity to C. albicans requires T helper 17 (Th17) cell differentiation that is thought to depend on recognition of filamentous C. albicans. Systemic immunity is considered T cell independent. Using a murine skin infection model, we compared T helper cell responses to yeast and filamentous C. albicans. We found that only yeast induced Th17 cell responses through a mechanism that required Dectin-1-mediated expression of interleukin-6 (IL-6) by Langerhans cells. Filamentous forms induced Th1 without Th17 cell responses due to the absence of Dectin-1 ligation. Notably, Th17 cell responses provided protection against cutaneous infection while Th1 cell responses provided protection against systemic infection. Thus, C. albicans morphology drives distinct T helper cell responses that provide tissue-specific protection. These findings provide insight into compartmentalization of Th cell responses and C. albicans pathogenesis and have critical implications for vaccine strategies.

Real-Time Evolution of a Subtelomeric Gene Family in Candida Albicans

Genetics. Jul, 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 25956943

Subtelomeric regions of the genome are notable for high rates of sequence evolution and rapid gene turnover. Evidence of subtelomeric evolution has relied heavily on comparisons of historical evolutionary patterns to infer trends and frequencies of these events. Here, we describe evolution of the subtelomeric TLO gene family in Candida albicans during laboratory passaging for over 4000 generations. C. albicans is a commensal and opportunistic pathogen of humans and the TLO gene family encodes a subunit of the Mediator complex that regulates transcription and affects a range of virulence factors. We identified 16 distinct subtelomeric recombination events that altered the TLO repertoire. Ectopic recombination between subtelomeres on different chromosome ends occurred approximately once per 5000 generations and was often followed by loss of heterozygosity, resulting in the complete loss of one TLO gene sequence with expansion of another. In one case, recombination within TLO genes produced a novel TLO gene sequence. TLO copy number changes were biased, with some TLOs preferentially being copied to novel chromosome arms and other TLO genes being frequently lost. The majority of these nonreciprocal recombination events occurred either within the 3' end of the TLO coding sequence or within a conserved 50-bp sequence element centromere-proximal to TLO coding sequence. Thus, subtelomeric recombination is a rapid mechanism of generating genotypic diversity through alterations in the number and sequence of related gene family members.

Parasexual Ploidy Reduction Drives Population Heterogeneity Through Random and Transient Aneuploidy in Candida Albicans

Genetics. Jul, 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 25991822

The opportunistic pathogen Candida albicans has a large repertoire of mechanisms to generate genetic and phenotypic diversity despite the lack of meiosis in its life cycle. Its parasexual cycle enables shifts in ploidy, which in turn facilitate recombination, aneuploidy, and homozygosis of whole chromosomes to fuel rapid adaptation. Here we show that the tetraploid state potentiates ploidy variation and drives population heterogeneity. In tetraploids, the rate of losing a single heterozygous marker [loss of heterozygosity (LOH)] is elevated ∼30-fold higher than the rate in diploid cells. Furthermore, isolates recovered after selection for LOH of one, two, or three markers were highly aneuploid, with a broad range of karyotypes including strains with a combination of di-, tri-, and tetrasomic chromosomes. We followed the ploidy trajectories for these tetraploid- and aneuploid-derived isolates, using a combination of flow cytometry and double-digestion restriction-site-associated DNA analyzed with next-generation sequencing. Isolates derived from either tetraploid or aneuploid isolates predominately resolved to a stable euploid state. The majority of isolates reduced to the conventional diploid state; however, stable triploid and tetraploid states were observed in ∼30% of the isolates. Notably, aneuploid isolates were more transient than tetraploid isolates, resolving to a euploid state within a few passages. Furthermore, the likelihood that a particular isolate will resolve to the same ploidy state in replicate evolution experiments is only ∼50%, supporting the idea that the chromosome loss process of the parasexual cycle is random and does not follow trajectories involving specific combinations of chromosomes. Together, our results indicate that tetraploid progenitors can produce populations of progeny cells with a high degree of genomic diversity, from altered ploidy to homozygosis, providing an excellent source of genetic variation upon which selection can act.

Shift and Adapt: the Costs and Benefits of Karyotype Variations

Current Opinion in Microbiology. Aug, 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 26321163

Variation is the spice of life or, in the case of evolution, variation is the necessary material on which selection can act to enable adaptation. Karyotypic variation in ploidy (the number of homologous chromosome sets) and aneuploidy (imbalance in the number of chromosomes) are fundamentally different than other types of genomic variants. Karyotypic variation emerges through different molecular mechanisms than other mutational events, and unlike mutations that alter the genome at the base pair level, rapid reversion to the wild type chromosome number is often possible. Although karyotypic variation has long been noted and discussed by biologists, interest in the importance of karyotypic variants in evolutionary processes has spiked in recent years, and much remains to be discovered about how karyotypic variants are produced and subsequently selected.

Physical Limits on Kinesin-5-mediated Chromosome Congression in the Smallest Mitotic Spindles

Molecular Biology of the Cell. Nov, 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 26354423

A characteristic feature of mitotic spindles is the congression of chromosomes near the spindle equator, a process mediated by dynamic kinetochore microtubules. A major challenge is to understand how precise, submicrometer-scale control of kinetochore micro-tubule dynamics is achieved in the smallest mitotic spindles, where the noisiness of microtubule assembly/disassembly will potentially act to overwhelm the spatial information that controls microtubule plus end-tip positioning to mediate congression. To better understand this fundamental limit, we conducted an integrated live fluorescence, electron microscopy, and modeling analysis of the polymorphic fungal pathogen Candida albicans, which contains one of the smallest known mitotic spindles (<1 μm). Previously, ScCin8p (kinesin-5 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae) was shown to mediate chromosome congression by promoting catastrophe of long kinetochore microtubules (kMTs). Using C. albicans yeast and hyphal kinesin-5 (Kip1p) heterozygotes (KIP1/kip1∆), we found that mutant spindles have longer kMTs than wild-type spindles, consistent with a less-organized spindle. By contrast, kinesin-8 heterozygous mutant (KIP3/kip3∆) spindles exhibited the same spindle organization as wild type. Of interest, spindle organization in the yeast and hyphal states was indistinguishable, even though yeast and hyphal cell lengths differ by two- to fivefold, demonstrating that spindle length regulation and chromosome congression are intrinsic to the spindle and largely independent of cell size. Together these results are consistent with a kinesin-5-mediated, length-dependent depolymerase activity that organizes chromosomes at the spindle equator in C. albicans to overcome fundamental noisiness in microtubule self-assembly. More generally, we define a dimensionless number that sets a fundamental physical limit for maintaining congression in small spindles in the face of assembly noise and find that C. albicans operates very close to this limit, which may explain why it has the smallest known mitotic spindle that still manifests the classic congression architecture.

Polyploid Titan Cells Produce Haploid and Aneuploid Progeny to Promote Stress Adaptation

MBio. Oct, 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 26463162

Cryptococcus neoformans is a major life-threatening fungal pathogen. In response to the stress of the host environment, C. neoformans produces large polyploid titan cells. Titan cell production enhances the virulence of C. neoformans, yet whether the polyploid aspect of titan cells is specifically influential remains unknown. We show that titan cells were more likely to survive and produce offspring under multiple stress conditions than typical cells and that even their normally sized daughters maintained an advantage over typical cells in continued exposure to stress. Although polyploid titan cells generated haploid daughter cell progeny upon in vitro replication under nutrient-replete conditions, titan cells treated with the antifungal drug fluconazole produced fluconazole-resistant diploid and aneuploid daughter cells. Interestingly, a single titan mother cell was capable of generating multiple types of aneuploid daughter cells. The increased survival and genomic diversity of titan cell progeny promote rapid adaptation to new or high-stress conditions.

Corrigendum: The 'obligate Diploid' Candida Albicans Forms Mating-competent Haploids

Nature. Feb, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 26580011

High Frame-rate Resolution of Cell Division During Candida Albicans Filamentation

Fungal Genetics and Biology : FG & B. Mar, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 26854071

The commensal yeast, Candida albicans, is an opportunistic pathogen in humans and forms filaments called hyphae and pseudohyphae, in which cell division requires precise temporal and spatial control to produce mononuclear cell compartments. High-frame-rate live-cell imaging (1 frame/min) revealed that nuclear division did not occur across the septal plane. We detected the presence of nucleolar fragments that may be extrachromosomal molecules carrying the ribosomal RNA genes. Cells occasionally maintained multiple nucleoli, suggesting either polyploidy, multiple nuclei and/or aneuploidy of ChrR., while the migration pattern of sister nuclei differed between unbranched and branched hyphae. The presented movie challenges and extends previous concepts of C. albicans cell division.

Ploidy Plasticity: a Rapid and Reversible Strategy for Adaptation to Stress

FEMS Yeast Research. May, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 26945893

Organisms must be able to grow in a broad range of conditions found in their normal growth environment and for a species to survive, at least some cells in a population must adapt rapidly to extreme stress conditions that kill the majority of cells.Candida albicans, the most prevalent fungal pathogen of humans resides as a commensal in a broad range of niches within the human host. Growth conditions in these niches are highly variable and stresses such exposure to antifungal drugs can inhibit population growth abruptly. One of the mechanisms C. albicans uses to adapt rapidly to severe stresses is aneuploidy-a change in the total number of chromosomes such that one or more chromosomes are present in excess or are missing. Aneuploidy is quite common in wild isolates of fungi and other eukaryotic microbes. Aneuploidy can be achieved by chromosome nondisjunction during a simple mitosis, and in stress conditions it begins to appear after two mitotic divisions via a tetraploid intermediate. Aneuploidy usually resolves to euploidy (a balanced number of chromosomes), but not necessarily to diploidy. Aneuploidy of a specific chromosome can confer new phenotypes by virtue of the copy number of specific genes on that chromosome relative to the copies of other genes. Thus, it is not aneuploidy per se, but the relative copy number of specific genes that confers many tested aneuploidy-associated phenotypes. Aneuploidy almost always carries a fitness cost, as cells express most proteins encoded by genes on the aneuploid chromosome in proportion to the number of DNA copies of the gene. This is thought to be due to imbalances in the stoichiometry of different components of large complexes. Despite this, fitness is a relative function-and if stress is severe and population growth has slowed considerably, then even small growth advantages of some aneuploidies can provide a selective advantage. Thus, aneuploidy appears to provide a transient solution to severe and sudden stress conditions, and may promote the appearance of more stable solutions as well. Importantly, in many clinical and environmental isolates of different fungal species aneuploidy does not appear to have a high fitness cost, and is well-tolerated. Thus, rapid changes in ploidy may provide the opportunity for rapid adaptation to stress conditions in the environment, host niches or in response to antifungal drugs.

Candida Albicans Repetitive Elements Display Epigenetic Diversity and Plasticity

Scientific Reports. Mar, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 26971880

Transcriptionally silent heterochromatin is associated with repetitive DNA. It is poorly understood whether and how heterochromatin differs between different organisms and whether its structure can be remodelled in response to environmental signals. Here, we address this question by analysing the chromatin state associated with DNA repeats in the human fungal pathogen Candida albicans. Our analyses indicate that, contrary to model systems, each type of repetitive element is assembled into a distinct chromatin state. Classical Sir2-dependent hypoacetylated and hypomethylated chromatin is associated with the rDNA locus while telomeric regions are assembled into a weak heterochromatin that is only mildly hypoacetylated and hypomethylated. Major Repeat Sequences, a class of tandem repeats, are assembled into an intermediate chromatin state bearing features of both euchromatin and heterochromatin. Marker gene silencing assays and genome-wide RNA sequencing reveals that C. albicans heterochromatin represses expression of repeat-associated coding and non-coding RNAs. We find that telomeric heterochromatin is dynamic and remodelled upon an environmental change. Weak heterochromatin is associated with telomeres at 30 °C, while robust heterochromatin is assembled over these regions at 39 °C, a temperature mimicking moderate fever in the host. Thus in C. albicans, differential chromatin states controls gene expression and epigenetic plasticity is linked to adaptation.

DiskImageR: Quantification of Resistance and Tolerance to Antimicrobial Drugs Using Disk Diffusion Assays

Microbiology (Reading, England). Jul, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 27126388

Microbial pathogens represent an increasing threat to human health. Although many infections can be successfully treated and cleared, drug resistance is a widespread problem. The existence of subpopulations of 'tolerant' cells (where a fraction of the population is able to grow above the population resistance level) may increase the rate of treatment failure; yet, existing methods to measure subpopulation effects are cumbersome. Here we describe diskImageR, a computational pipeline that analyses photographs of disk diffusion assays to determine the degree of drug susceptibility [the radius of inhibition, (RAD)], and two aspects of subpopulation growth [the fraction of growth (FoG) within the zone of inhibition, (ZOI), and the rate of change in growth from no drug to inhibitory drug concentrations, (SLOPE)]. diskImageR was used to examine the response of the human fungal pathogen Candida albicans to the antifungal drug fluconazole across different strain backgrounds and growth conditions. Disk diffusion assays performed under Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) conditions led to more susceptibility and less tolerance than assays performed using rich medium conditions. We also used diskImageR to quantify the effects of three drugs in combination with fluconazole, finding that all three combinations affected tolerance, with the effect of one drug (doxycycline) being very strain dependent. The three drugs had different effects on susceptibility, with doxycycline generally having no effect, chloroquine generally increasing susceptibility and pyrvinium pamoate generally reducing susceptibility. The ability to simultaneously quantitate different aspects of microbial drug responses will facilitate the study of mechanisms of subpopulation responses in the presence of antimicrobial drugs.

Phenotypic Consequences of a Spontaneous Loss of Heterozygosity in a Common Laboratory Strain of Candida Albicans

Genetics. Jul, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 27206717

By testing the susceptibility to DNA damaging agents of several Candida albicans mutant strains derived from the commonly used laboratory strain, CAI4, we uncovered sensitivity to methyl methanesulfonate (MMS) in CAI4 and its derivatives, but not in CAF2-1. This sensitivity is not a result of URA3 disruption because the phenotype was not restored after URA3 reintroduction. Rather, we found that homozygosis of a short region of chromosome 3R (Chr3R), which is naturally heterozygous in the MMS-resistant-related strains CAF4-2 and CAF2-1, confers MMS sensitivity and modulates growth polarization in response to MMS. Furthermore, induction of homozygosity in this region in CAF2-1 or CAF4-2 resulted in MMS sensitivity. We identified 11 genes by SNP/comparative genomic hybridization containing only the a alleles in all the MMS-sensitive strains. Four candidate genes, SNF5, POL1, orf19.5854.1, and MBP1, were analyzed by generating hemizygous configurations in CAF2-1 and CAF4-2 for each allele of all four genes. Only hemizygous MBP1a/mbp1b::SAT1-FLIP strains became MMS sensitive, indicating that MBP1a in the homo- or hemizygosis state was sufficient to account for the MMS-sensitive phenotype. In yeast, Mbp1 regulates G1/S genes involved in DNA repair. A second region of homozygosis on Chr2L increased MMS sensitivity in CAI4 (Chr3R homozygous) but not CAF4-2 (Chr3R heterozygous). This is the first example of sign epistasis in C. albicans.

Sir2 Regulates Stability of Repetitive Domains Differentially in the Human Fungal Pathogen Candida Albicans

Nucleic Acids Research. Nov, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 27369382

DNA repeats, found at the ribosomal DNA locus, telomeres and subtelomeric regions, are unstable sites of eukaryotic genomes. A fine balance between genetic variability and genomic stability tunes plasticity of these chromosomal regions. This tuning mechanism is particularly important for organisms such as microbial pathogens that utilise genome plasticity as a strategy for adaptation. For the first time, we analyse mechanisms promoting genome stability at the rDNA locus and subtelomeric regions in the most common human fungal pathogen: Candida albicans In this organism, the histone deacetylase Sir2, the master regulator of heterochromatin, has acquired novel functions in regulating genome stability. Contrary to any other systems analysed, C. albicans Sir2 is largely dispensable for repressing recombination at the rDNA locus. We demonstrate that recombination at subtelomeric regions is controlled by a novel DNA element, the TLO Recombination Element, TRE, and by Sir2. While the TRE element promotes high levels of recombination, Sir2 represses this recombination rate. Finally, we demonstrate that, in C. albicans, mechanisms regulating genome stability are plastic as different environmental stress conditions lead to general genome instability and mask the Sir2-mediated recombination control at subtelomeres. Our data highlight how mechanisms regulating genome stability are rewired in C. albicans.

Heteroresistance to Fluconazole Is a Continuously Distributed Phenotype Among Candida Glabrata Clinical Strains Associated with In Vivo Persistence

MBio. Aug, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 27486188

Candida glabrata causes persistent infections in patients treated with fluconazole and often acquires resistance following exposure to the drug. Here we found that clinical strains of C. glabrata exhibit cell-to-cell variation in drug response (heteroresistance). We used population analysis profiling (PAP) to assess fluconazole heteroresistance (FLC(HR)) and to ask if it is a binary trait or a continuous phenotype. Thirty (57.6%) of 52 fluconazole-sensitive clinical C. glabrata isolates met accepted dichotomous criteria for FLC(HR) However, quantitative grading of FLC(HR) by using the area under the PAP curve (AUC) revealed a continuous distribution across a wide range of values, suggesting that all isolates exhibit some degree of heteroresistance. The AUC correlated with rhodamine 6G efflux and was associated with upregulation of the CDR1 and PDH1 genes, encoding ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transmembrane transporters, implying that HetR populations exhibit higher levels of drug efflux. Highly FLC(HR) C. glabrata was recovered more frequently than nonheteroresistant C. glabrata from hematogenously infected immunocompetent mice following treatment with high-dose fluconazole (45.8% versus 15%, P = 0.029). Phylogenetic analysis revealed some phenotypic clustering but also variations in FLC(HR) within clonal groups, suggesting both genetic and epigenetic determinants of heteroresistance. Collectively, these results establish heteroresistance to fluconazole as a graded phenotype associated with ABC transporter upregulation and fluconazole efflux. Heteroresistance may explain the propensity of C. glabrata for persistent infection and the emergence of breakthrough resistance to fluconazole.

Neocentromeres Provide Chromosome Segregation Accuracy and Centromere Clustering to Multiple Loci Along a Candida Albicans Chromosome

PLoS Genetics. Sep, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 27662467

Assembly of kinetochore complexes, involving greater than one hundred proteins, is essential for chromosome segregation and genome stability. Neocentromeres, or new centromeres, occur when kinetochores assemble de novo, at DNA loci not previously associated with kinetochore proteins, and they restore chromosome segregation to chromosomes lacking a functional centromere. Neocentromeres have been observed in a number of diseases and may play an evolutionary role in adaptation or speciation. However, the consequences of neocentromere formation on chromosome missegregation rates, gene expression, and three-dimensional (3D) nuclear structure are not well understood. Here, we used Candida albicans, an organism with small, epigenetically-inherited centromeres, as a model system to study the functions of twenty different neocentromere loci along a single chromosome, chromosome 5. Comparison of neocentromere properties relative to native centromere functions revealed that all twenty neocentromeres mediated chromosome segregation, albeit to different degrees. Some neocentromeres also caused reduced levels of transcription from genes found within the neocentromere region. Furthermore, like native centromeres, neocentromeres clustered in 3D with active/functional centromeres, indicating that formation of a new centromere mediates the reorganization of 3D nuclear architecture. This demonstrates that centromere clustering depends on epigenetically defined function and not on the primary DNA sequence, and that neocentromere function is independent of its distance from the native centromere position. Together, the results show that a neocentromere can form at many loci along a chromosome and can support the assembly of a functional kinetochore that exhibits native centromere functions including chromosome segregation accuracy and centromere clustering within the nucleus.

Ploidy Dynamics and Evolvability in Fungi

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences. Dec, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 28080987

Rapid responses to acute stresses are essential for stress survival and are critical to the ability of fungal pathogens to adapt to new environments or hosts. The rapid emergence of drug resistance is used as a model for how fungi adapt and survive stress conditions that inhibit the growth of progenitor cells. Aneuploidy and loss of heterozygosity (LOH), which are large-scale genome shifts involving whole chromosomes or chromosome arms, occur at higher frequency than point mutations and have the potential to mediate stress survival. Furthermore, the stress of exposure to an antifungal drug can induce elevated levels of LOH and can promote the formation of aneuploids. This occurs via mitotic defects that first produce tetraploid progeny with extra spindles, followed by chromosome mis-segregation. Thus, drug exposure induces elevated levels of aneuploidy, which can alter the copy number of genes that improve survival in a given stress or drug. Selection then acts to increase the proportion of adaptive aneuploids in the population. Because aneuploidy is a common property of many pathogenic fungi, including those posing emerging threats to plants, animals and humans, we propose that aneuploid formation and LOH often accompanying it contribute to the rapid generation of diversity that can facilitate the emergence of fungal pathogens to new environmental niches and/or new hosts, as well as promote antifungal drug resistance that makes emerging fungal infections ever more difficult to contain.This article is part of the themed issue 'Tackling emerging fungal threats to animal health, food security and ecosystem resilience'.

Multidrug-Resistant Candida Haemulonii and C. Auris, Tel Aviv, Israel

Emerging Infectious Diseases. Feb, 2017  |  Pubmed ID: 28098529

Candida auris and C. haemulonii are closely related, multidrug-resistant emerging fungal pathogens that are not readily distinguishable with phenotypic assays. We studied C. auris and C. haemulonii clinical isolates from 2 hospitals in central Israel. C. auris was isolated in 5 patients with nosocomial bloodstream infection, and C. haemulonii was found as a colonizer of leg wounds at a peripheral vascular disease clinic. Liberal use of topical miconazole and close contact among patients were implicated in C. haemulonii transmission. C. auris exhibited higher thermotolerance, virulence in a mouse infection model, and ATP-dependent drug efflux activity than C. haemulonii. Comparison of ribosomal DNA sequences found that C. auris strains from Israel were phylogenetically distinct from isolates from East Asia, South Africa and Kuwait, whereas C. haemulonii strains from different countries were closely interrelated. Our findings highlight the pathogenicity of C. auris and underscore the need to limit its spread.

Haplotyping a Non-meiotic Diploid Fungal Pathogen Using Induced Aneuploidies and SNP/CGH Microarray Analysis

Methods in Molecular Biology (Clifton, N.J.). 2017  |  Pubmed ID: 28138844

The generation of haplotype information has recently become very attractive due to its utility for identifying mutations associated with human disease and for the development of personalized medicine. Haplotype information also is crucial for studying recombination mechanisms and genetic diversity, and for analyzing allele-specific gene expression. Classic haplotyping methods require the analysis of hundreds of meiotic progeny. To facilitate haplotyping in the non-meiotic human fungal pathogen Candida albicans, we exploited trisomic heterozygous chromosomes generated via the UAU1 selection strategy. Using this system, we obtained phasing information from allelic biases, detected by SNP/CGH microarray analysis. This strategy has the potential to be applicable to other diploid, asexual Candida species that are important causes of human disease.

Ploidy Tug-of-war: Evolutionary and Genetic Environments Influence the Rate of Ploidy Drive in a Human Fungal Pathogen

Evolution; International Journal of Organic Evolution. Feb, 2017  |  Pubmed ID: 28195309

Variation in baseline ploidy is seen throughout the tree of life, yet the factors that determine why one ploidy level is maintained over another remain poorly understood. Experimental evolution studies using asexual fungal microbes with manipulated ploidy levels intriguingly reveals a propensity to return to the historical baseline ploidy, a phenomenon that we term 'ploidy drive'. We evolved haploid, diploid, and polyploid strains of the human fungal pathogen Candida albicans under three different nutrient limitation environments to test whether these conditions, hypothesized to select for low ploidy levels, could counteract ploidy drive. Strains generally maintained or acquired smaller genome sizes size (measured as total nuclear DNA through flow cytometry) in minimal medium and under phosphorus depletion compared to in a complete medium, while mostly maintained or acquired increased genome sizes under nitrogen depletion. Improvements in fitness often ran counter to changes in genome size; in a number of scenarios lines that maintained their original genome size often increased in fitness more than lines that converged towards diploidy. Combined, this work demonstrates a role for both the environment and genotype in determination of the rate of ploidy drive, and highlights questions that remain about the force(s) that cause genome size variation. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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