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PLoS One. 2011 Apr 12;6(4):e18684. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0018684.

Calcineurin signaling and membrane lipid homeostasis regulates iron mediated multidrug resistance mechanisms in Candida albicans.

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School of Life Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India.


We previously demonstrated that iron deprivation enhances drug susceptibility of Candida albicans by increasing membrane fluidity which correlated with the lower expression of ERG11 transcript and ergosterol levels. The iron restriction dependent membrane perturbations led to an increase in passive diffusion and drug susceptibility. The mechanisms underlying iron homeostasis and multidrug resistance (MDR), however, are not yet resolved. To evaluate the potential mechanisms, we used whole genome transcriptome and electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry (ESI-MS/MS) based lipidome analyses of iron deprived Candida cells to examine the new cellular circuitry of the MDR of this pathogen. Our transcriptome data revealed a link between calcineurin signaling and iron homeostasis. Among the several categories of iron deprivation responsive genes, the down regulation of calcineurin signaling genes including HSP90, CMP1 and CRZ1 was noteworthy. Interestingly, iron deprived Candida cells as well as iron acquisition defective mutants phenocopied molecular chaperone HSP90 and calcineurin mutants and thus were sensitive to alkaline pH, salinity and membrane perturbations. In contrast, sensitivity to above stresses did not change in iron deprived DSY2146 strain with a hyperactive allele of calcineurin. Although, iron deprivation phenocopied compromised HSP90 and calcineurin, it was independent of protein kinase C signaling cascade. Notably, the phenotypes associated with iron deprivation in genetically impaired calcineurin and HSP90 could be reversed with iron supplementation. The observed down regulation of ergosterol (ERG1, ERG2, ERG11 and ERG25) and sphingolipid biosynthesis (AUR1 and SCS7) genes followed by lipidome analysis confirmed that iron deprivation not only disrupted ergosterol biosynthesis, but it also affected sphingolipid homeostasis in Candida cells. These lipid compositional changes suggested extensive remodeling of the membranes in iron deprived Candida cells. Taken together, our data provide the first novel insight into the intricate relationship between cellular iron, calcineurin signaling, membrane lipid homeostasis and drug susceptibility of Candida cells.

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