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Eukaryot Cell. 2011 Feb;10(2):168-73. doi: 10.1128/EC.00279-10. Epub 2010 Nov 29.

Candida albicans Als3, a multifunctional adhesin and invasin.

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Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, 1124 W. Carson St., Torrance, CA, USA.


Candida albicans is part of the normal human flora, and it grows on mucosal surfaces in healthy individuals. In susceptible hosts, this organism can cause both mucosal and hematogenously disseminated disease. For C. albicans to persist in the host and induce disease, it must be able to adhere to biotic and abiotic surfaces, invade host cells, and obtain iron. The C. albicans hypha-specific surface protein Als3 is a member of the agglutinin-like sequence (Als) family of proteins and is important in all of these processes. Functioning as an adhesin, Als3 mediates attachment to epithelial cells, endothelial cells, and extracellular matrix proteins. It also plays an important role in biofilm formation on prosthetic surfaces, both alone and in mixed infection with Streptococcus gordonii. Als3 is one of two known C. albicans invasins. It binds to host cell receptors such as E-cadherin and N-cadherin and thereby induces host cells to endocytose the organism. Als3 also binds to host cell ferritin and enables C. albicans to utilize this protein as a source of iron. Because of its multiple functions and its high expression level in vivo, Als3 is a promising target for vaccines that induce protective cell-mediated and antibody responses. This review will summarize the multiple functions of this interesting and multifunctional protein.

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