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Curr Biol. 2008 Jul 22;18(14):1017-24. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2008.06.034.

Complementary adhesin function in C. albicans biofilm formation.

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



Biofilms are surface-associated microbial communities with significant environmental and medical impact. Here, we focus on an adherence mechanism that permits biofilm formation by Candida albicans, the major invasive fungal pathogen of humans.


The Als surface-protein family has been implicated in biofilm formation, and we show that Als1 and Als3 have critical but redundant roles. Overexpression of several other Als proteins permits biofilm formation in a biofilm-defective als1/als1 als3/als3 strain, thus arguing that the function of Als proteins in this process is governed by their respective expression levels. The surface protein Hwp1 is also required for biofilm formation, and we find that a mixture of biofilm-defective hwp1/hwp1 and als1/als1 als3/als3 strains can form a hybrid biofilm both in vitro and in vivo in a catheter infection model. Complementary function of Hwp1 and Als1 and 3 seems to reflect their interaction because expression of Hwp1 in the heterologous host S. cerevisiae permits adherence to wild-type C. albicans, but not to an als1/als1 als3/als3 strain.


The complementary roles of Hwp1 and Als1 and Als3 in biofilm formation are analogous to the roles of sexual agglutinins in mating reactions. This analogy suggests that biofilm-adhesin complementarity may promote formation of monospecies biofilms.

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