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Eukaryot Cell. 2011 Apr;10(4):565-77. doi: 10.1128/EC.00305-10. Epub 2011 Feb 25.

Conjugated linoleic acid inhibits hyphal growth in Candida albicans by modulating Ras1p cellular levels and downregulating TEC1 expression.

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  • 1Département de Microbiologie et Immunologie, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec H3C 3J7, Canada.


The polymorphic yeast Candida albicans exists in yeast and filamentous forms. Given that the morphogenetic switch coincides with the expression of many virulence factors, the yeast-to-hypha transition constitutes an attractive target for the development of new antifungal agents. Since an untapped therapeutic potential resides in small molecules that hinder C. albicans filamentation, we characterized the inhibitory effect of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) on hyphal growth and addressed its mechanism of action. CLA inhibited hyphal growth in a dose-dependent fashion in both liquid and solid hypha-inducing media. The fatty acid blocked germ tube formation without affecting cellular growth rates. Global transcriptional profiling revealed that CLA downregulated the expression of hypha-specific genes and abrogated the induction of several regulators of hyphal growth, including TEC1, UME6, RFG1, and RAS1. However, neither UME6 nor RFG1 was necessary for CLA-mediated hyphal growth inhibition. Expression analysis showed that the downregulation of TEC1 expression levels by CLA depended on RAS1. In addition, while RAS1 transcript levels remained constant in CLA-treated cells, its protein levels declined with time. With the use of a strain expressing GFP-Ras1p, CLA treatment was also shown to affect Ras1p localization to the plasma membrane. These findings suggest that CLA inhibits hyphal growth by affecting the cellular localization of Ras1p and blocking the increase in RAS1 mRNA and protein levels. Combined, these effects should prevent the induction of the Ras1p signaling pathway. This study provides the biological and molecular explanations that underlie CLA's ability to inhibit hyphal growth in C. albicans.

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