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Eukaryot Cell. 2006 Oct;5(10):1604-10.

Function of Candida albicans adhesin Hwp1 in biofilm formation.

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Department of Microbiology, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Hwp1 is a well-characterized Candida albicans cell surface protein, expressed only on hyphae, that mediates tight binding to oral epithelial cells. Prior studies indicate that HWP1 expression is dependent upon Bcr1, a key regulator of biofilm formation. Here we test the hypothesis that Hwp1 is required for biofilm formation. In an in vitro model, the hwp1/hwp1 mutant produces a thin biofilm that lacks much of the hyphal mass found in the hwp1/HWP1 reconstituted strain. In a biofilm cell retention assay, we find that the hwp1/hwp1 mutant is defective in retention of nonadherent bcr1/bcr1 mutant cells. In an in vivo rat venous catheter model, the hwp1/hwp1 mutant has a severe biofilm defect, yielding only yeast microcolonies in the catheter lumen. These properties of the hwp1/hwp1 mutant are consistent with its role as a hypha-specific adhesin and indicate that it is required for normal biofilm formation. Overexpression of HWP1 in a bcr1/bcr1 mutant background improves adherence in the in vivo catheter model. This finding provides additional support for the model that Hwp1 is critical for biofilm adhesion. Hwp1 is the first cell surface protein known to be required for C. albicans biofilm formation in vivo and is thus an excellent therapeutic target.

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