2003 J Med Microbiol. 2003 Aug;52(Pt 8):623-32
Department of Dermatology and Allergology, University of Munich, Munich, Germany.

Reduced expression of the hyphal-independent Candida albicans proteinase genes SAP1 and SAP3 in the efg1 mutant is associated with attenuated virulence during infection of oral epithelium

The transition of Candida albicans from a yeast to a hyphal form is controlled by several transcriptional factors, including the key regulators Cph1 and Efg1, and is considered an important virulence attribute. These factors, especially Efg1, regulate the expression of hyphal-associated genes e.g. SAP4-SAP6. In order to investigate the relevance of these transcriptional regulators for hyphal-independent SAP genes, recently constructed cph1 and efg1 single mutants and a cph1/efg1 double mutant lacking these factors were tested during interaction with oral epithelium and polymorphonuclear neutrophils. In contrast to the parental wild-type strain and the cph1 mutant, the efg1 and the cph1/efg1 mutants did not produce hyphal forms in all experiments and were less capable of damaging epithelial cells and neutrophil granulocytes. The attenuated epithelial lesions of these mutants were correlated not only with reduced expression of the hyphal-associated gene SAP4, but also with the lack of SAP1 and SAP3 expression previously shown to be important for oral infections. An efg1 mutant strain carrying a plasmid-borne copy of the EFG1 gene regained hyphal growth, damage of keratinocytes, granulocytes and the expression of SAP1 and SAP3. Although efg1 and cph1/efg1 mutants did not produce germ tubes during infection, expression of the hyphal-associated genes SAP5 and SAP6 was not completely abolished. A reduced capacity to stimulate an epithelial immune response manifested by a delayed onset of IL-1beta, IL-8 and TNF expression was only observed in the cph1/efg1-infected tissue. These results provide further evidence for a combined regulation of different virulence factors, such as dimorphism and expression of SAP genes. Furthermore, it could be demonstrated that the lack of Efg1 also caused reduced expression of hyphal-independent SAP genes. Both the EFG1 and the CPH1 gene products are necessary for adequate induction of an immune response.