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J Cell Sci. 2005 Jul 1;118(Pt 13):2935-47.

Candida albicans hyphae have a Spitzenkörper that is distinct from the polarisome found in yeast and pseudohyphae.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Sheffield University, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK.


Fungi grow with a variety of morphologies: oval yeast cells, chains of elongated cells called pseudohyphae and long, narrow, tube-like filaments called hyphae. In filamentous fungi, hyphal growth is strongly polarised to the tip and is mediated by the Spitzenkörper, which acts as a supply centre to concentrate the delivery of secretory vesicles to the tip. In the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, polarised growth is mediated by the polarisome, a surface cap of proteins that nucleates the formation of actin cables delivering secretory vesicles to the growing tip. The human fungal pathogen, Candida albicans, can grow in all three morphological forms. Here we show the presence of a Spitzenkörper at the tip of C. albicans hyphae as a ball-like localisation of secretory vesicles, together with the formin Bni1 and Mlc1, an ortholog of an S. cerevisiae myosin regulatory light chain. In contrast, in C. albicans yeast cells, pseudohyphae and hyphae Spa2 and Bud6, orthologs of S. cerevisiae polarisome components, as well as the master morphology regulator Cdc42, localise predominantly, but not exclusively, to a surface cap resembling the polarisome of S. cerevisiae yeast cells. A small amount of Cdc42 also localises to the Spitzenkörper. Furthermore, we show differences in the genetic and cytoskeletal requirements, and cell cycle dynamics of polarity determinants in yeast, pseudohyphae and hyphae. These results, together with the cytological differences between the cell types, suggest that the Spitzenkörper and polarisome are distinct structures, that the polarisome and Spitzenkörper coexist in hyphae, and that polarised growth in hyphae is driven by a fundamentally different mechanism to that in yeast and pseudohyphae.

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