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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1994 Jun 21;91(13):6216-20.

A hyphal-specific chitin synthase gene (CHS2) is not essential for growth, dimorphism, or virulence of Candida albicans.

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  • 1Center for Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02139.


In the dimorphic fungus Candida albicans, the CHS2 gene encodes a chitin synthase that is expressed preferentially in the hyphal form. Gene disruption of CHS2 in this diploid asexual fungus was achieved by the "ura-blaster" protocol described for Saccharomyces [Alani, E., Cao, L. & Kleckner, N. (1987) Genetics 116, 541-545]. This involves the sequential disruption of multiple alleles by integrative transformation with URA3 as a single selectable marker. After disrupting the first CHS2 allele, the Ura- phenotype was recovered through cis recombination between repeated hisG sequences that flanked the URA3 marker in the disruption cassette, which was then used again to disrupt further CHS2 alleles. This method of gene disruption is well suited to the mutational analysis of this genetically recalcitrant human pathogen. Three rounds of disruption were required, suggesting that the strain SGY243 is triploid for the CHS2 locus. The resulting homozygous delta chs2::hisG null mutants were viable and made germ tubes with a normal morphology. The germ tubes were formed more slowly than parental strains in serum-containing medium and the germinating cells had a 40% reduction in their chitin content compared to germ tubes of the parent strain. The chitin content of the yeast form was not affected. A prototrophic strain of the chs2 null mutant was not attenuated significantly in its virulence when tested in normal and immunosuppressed mice.

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