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Fungal Genet Biol. 2005 Nov;42(11):935-47. Epub 2005 Oct 7.

Candida albicans CHT3 encodes the functional homolog of the Cts1 chitinase of Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

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Junior Research Group Growth-control of Fungal Pathogens, Leibniz Institute for Natural Products Research and Infection Biology, Hans-Knöll Institute, Beutenbergstr. 11a, D-07745 Jena, Germany.


Chitin synthesis and chitin degradation play an important role in cellular morphogenesis and influence the cell shape of fungal organisms. The Candida albicans genome contains four chitinase genes, CHT1, CHT2, and CHT3, which are homologous to the Saccharomyces cerevisiae CTS1 gene and C. albicans CHT4, which is homologous to S. cerevisiae CTS2. To determine which of the C. albicans CHT genes represents the functional homolog of the S. cerevisiae CTS1 gene we constructed mutants of these genes and characterized the resulting phenotypes using morphological assays such as in vivo time lapse microscopy and enzymatic assays to determine the chitinase activity. Deletion of CaCHT1 and CaCHT2 provided no phenotypic alterations in liquid culture but resulted in increased hyphal growth on solid media. Deletion of CaCHT3 generated chains of unseparated cells in the yeast growth phase strongly resembling the cts1 deletion phenotype of S. cerevisiae cells. Expression of CHT3 under control of the regulatable MAL2-promoter in C. albicans resulted in the reversion of the cell separation defect when cells were grown in maltose. Cht3, but not Cht2 when expressed in S. cerevisiae was also able to reverse the cell separation defect of the S. cerevisiae c ts1 deletion strain. Measurements of chitinase activity from yeast cells of C. albicans showed that Cht2 is bound to cells, consistent with it being GPI-anchored while Cht3 is secreted into growth medium; Cht3 is also the principal, observed activity.

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