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Eukaryot Cell. 2013 Jan;12(1):101-8. doi: 10.1128/EC.00238-12. Epub 2012 Nov 9.

Improved gene ontology annotation for biofilm formation, filamentous growth, and phenotypic switching in Candida albicans.

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Department of Genetics, Stanford University Medical School, Stanford, California, USA.


The opportunistic fungal pathogen Candida albicans is a significant medical threat, especially for immunocompromised patients. Experimental research has focused on specific areas of C. albicans biology, with the goal of understanding the multiple factors that contribute to its pathogenic potential. Some of these factors include cell adhesion, invasive or filamentous growth, and the formation of drug-resistant biofilms. The Gene Ontology (GO) ( is a standardized vocabulary that the Candida Genome Database (CGD) ( and other groups use to describe the functions of gene products. To improve the breadth and accuracy of pathogenicity-related gene product descriptions and to facilitate the description of as yet uncharacterized but potentially pathogenicity-related genes in Candida species, CGD undertook a three-part project: first, the addition of terms to the biological process branch of the GO to improve the description of fungus-related processes; second, manual recuration of gene product annotations in CGD to use the improved GO vocabulary; and third, computational ortholog-based transfer of GO annotations from experimentally characterized gene products, using these new terms, to uncharacterized orthologs in other Candida species. Through genome annotation and analysis, we identified candidate pathogenicity genes in seven non-C. albicans Candida species and in one additional C. albicans strain, WO-1. We also defined a set of C. albicans genes at the intersection of biofilm formation, filamentous growth, pathogenesis, and phenotypic switching of this opportunistic fungal pathogen, which provides a compelling list of candidates for further experimentation.

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