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Mol Microbiol. 2007 Nov;66(4):858-71. Epub 2007 Oct 10.

Adaptation to environmental pH: integrating the Rim101 and calcineurin signal transduction pathways.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.


The ability to appropriately respond to environmental conditions is critical for the survival of simple microbes and for development of complex multicellular organisms. Sensing and responding to a given environmental condition requires the integration of numerous signals through one or more signal transduction pathways. This leads to changes in gene expression, and potentially post-translational modifications, that favour growth in the given environment. In the fungus Candida albicans, an important opportunistic pathogen, environmental pH has profound effects on morphology and proper adaptation to extracellular pH is critical for pathogenesis. Here, we demonstrate that the Rim101/PacC pH-sensing pathway acts in parallel to Crz1, via calcineurin, to adapt to alkaline pH. We also show that the Rim101 pathway acts in parallel to Crz2, independent of calcineurin, to adapt to high lithium concentrations and to repress filamentation at acidic pH. Our studies also revealed a novel requirement for Crz1, Crz2 and calcineurin for growth at acidic pH. From these studies, we propose that the Crz1 homologue Crz2 is calcineurin-independent, but like Crz1, acts in parallel to promote specific Rim101-dependent processes. These results establish and begin to dissect the complex interactions between important signal transduction pathways in C. albicans, which are critical for virulence.

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