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Eukaryot Cell. 2006 Jan;5(1):140-7.

Candida albicans Ecm33p is important for normal cell wall architecture and interactions with host cells.

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Departamento de Microbiología II, Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain.


Candida albicans ECM33 encodes a glycosylphosphatidylinositol-linked cell wall protein that is important for cell wall integrity. It is also critical for normal virulence in the mouse model of hematogenously disseminated candidiasis. To identify potential mechanisms through which Ecm33p contributes to virulence, we investigated the interactions of C. albicans ecm33Delta mutants with endothelial cells and the FaDu oral epithelial cell line in vitro. The growth rate of blastospores of strains containing either one or no intact copies of ECM33 was 50% slower than that of strains containing two intact copies of ECM33. However, all strains germinated at the same rate, forming similar-length hyphae on endothelial cells and oral epithelial cells. Strains containing either one or no intact copies of ECM33 had modestly reduced adherence to both types of host cells, and a markedly reduced capacity to invade and damage these cells. Saccharomyces cerevisiae expressing C. albicans ECM33 did not adhere to or invade epithelial cells, suggesting that Ecm33p by itself does not act as an adhesin or invasin. Examination of ecm33Delta mutants by transmission electron microscopy revealed that the cell wall of these strains had an abnormally electron-dense outer mannoprotein layer, which may represent a compensatory response to reduced cell wall integrity. The hyphae of these mutants also had aberrant surface localization of the adhesin Als1p. Collectively, these results suggest that Ecm33p is required for normal cell wall architecture as well as normal function and expression of cell surface proteins in C. albicans.

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