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Mol Microbiol. 2001 Mar;39(5):1414-26.

Chs1 of Candida albicans is an essential chitin synthase required for synthesis of the septum and for cell integrity.

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Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB25 2ZD, UK.


CaCHS1 of the fungal pathogen Candida albicans encodes an essential chitin synthase that is required for septum formation, viability, cell shape and integrity. The CaCHS1 gene was inactivated by first disrupting one allele using the ura-blaster protocol, then placing the remaining allele under the control of the maltose-inducible, glucose-repressible MRP1 promoter. Under repressing conditions, yeast cell growth continued temporarily, but daughter buds failed to detach from parents, resulting in septumless chains of cells with constrictions defining contiguous compartments. After several generations, a proportion of the distal compartments lysed. The conditional Deltachs1 mutant also failed to form primary septa in hyphae; after several generations, growth stopped, and hyphae developed swollen balloon-like features or lysed at one of a number of sites including the hyphal apex and other locations that would not normally be associated with septum formation. CHS1 therefore synthesizes the septum of both yeast and hyphae and also maintains the integrity of the lateral cell wall. The conditional mutant was avirulent under repressing conditions in an experimental model of systemic infection. Because this gene is essential in vitro and in vivo and is not present in humans, it represents an attractive target for the development of antifungal compounds.

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