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FEMS Yeast Res. 2009 Sep;9(6):942-55. doi: 10.1111/j.1567-1364.2009.00545.x. Epub 2009 Jun 26.

The Cek1 MAPK is a short-lived protein regulated by quorum sensing in the fungal pathogen Candida albicans.

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


Mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascades are signal transduction mechanisms present in eukaryotic cells that allow adaptation to environmental changes. MAPK activity is mainly regulated by dual phosphorylation in a TXY motif present in the kinase subdomain VIII as well as dephosphorylation by specific phosphatases. The Cek1 MAPK is involved in filamentous growth in Candida albicans and is an important determinant of virulence in this microorganism; its activation is controlled by the Sho1 adaptor protein. Here we show that Cek1 phosphorylation is regulated by quorum sensing (QS). Cek1 phosphorylation is prevented by farnesol, a compound that also regulates the dimorphic transition in this fungus. Farnesol also induced the activation of Mkc1, the MAPK of the cell integrity pathway. The role of farnesol in Cek1 phosphorylation is independent of the Chk1 histidine kinase, a putative QS sensor, as revealed by genetic analysis. In addition, Cek1, not Hog1, is degraded by proteasome, as revealed by the use of a conditional lethal protein degradation mutant. Our data therefore describe two different mechanisms (QS and protein degradation) that control a MAPK pathway that regulates virulence in a fungal pathogen.

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