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EMBO J. 2002 Oct 15;21(20):5448-56.

Gcn4 co-ordinates morphogenetic and metabolic responses to amino acid starvation in Candida albicans.

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Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Aberdeen, Institute of Medical Sciences, Foresterhill, Aberdeen AB25 2ZD, UK.


Candida albicans is a major fungal pathogen of humans. It regulates its morphology in response to various environmental signals, but many of these signals are poorly defined. We show that amino acid starvation induces filamentous growth in C.albicans. Also, starvation for a single amino acid (histidine) induces CaHIS4, CaHIS7, CaARO4, CaLYS1 and CaLYS2 gene expression in a manner reminiscent of the GCN response in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. These morphogenetic and GCN-like responses are both dependent upon CaGcn4, which is a functional homologue of S.cerevisiae Gcn4. Like ScGcn4, CaGcn4 activates the transcription of amino acid biosynthetic genes via the GCRE element, and CaGcn4 confers resistance to the histidine analogue, 3-aminotriazole. CaGcn4 interacts with the Ras-cAMP pathway to promote filamentous growth, but the GCN-like response is not dependent upon morphogenetic signalling. CaGcn4 acts as a global regulator in C.albicans, co-ordinating both metabolic and morphogenetic responses to amino acid starvation.

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