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Eukaryot Cell. 2004 Dec;3(6):1391-7.

Role of Candida albicans transcription factor Upc2p in drug resistance and sterol metabolism.

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  • 1Department of Pathobiology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.


In Candida albicans, drug resistance to clinically important antifungal drugs may be regulated through the action of transcription factors in a manner that may or may not be similar to regulation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. A search of the C. albicans genome identified a single homolog of the S. cerevisiae transcription factor genes UPC2 (ScUPC2) and ECM22 (ScECM22) that have been associated with regulation of ergosterol biosynthesis. Sequence analysis of this C. albicans UPC2 (CaUPC2) gene identifies two domains, an anchoring transmembrane domain and a transcription factor region containing multiple nuclear localization signals and a fungal Zn(2)-Cys(6) binuclear cluster domain. Heterozygous deletion, homozygous deletion, and reconstructed strains of CaUPC2 as well as the parental strain were tested against several antifungal drugs, including ergosterol biosynthesis inhibitors. The CaUPC2 homozygous deletion strain showed marked hypersusceptibility to most drugs, compared to the parental and reconstructed strains. The deletion strains accumulate significantly less radiolabeled cholesterol, suggesting reduced ergosterol scavenging in those strains. When grown under azole drug pressure, the parental, heterozygous deletion and reconstructed strains of CaUPC2 upregulate the ERG2 and ERG11 ergosterol biosynthesis genes, while the homozygous deletion strain shows no such upregulation. Consistent with these results, CaUPC2 deletion strains show reduced ergosterol levels, which may explain the increased susceptibilities of the CaUPC2 deletion strains. Thus, it appears that CaUPC2 acts as a transcription factor involved in the regulation of ergosterol biosynthetic genes and as a regulator of sterol uptake across the plasma membrane.

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