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ACS Nano. 2012 Dec 21;6(12):10950-64. doi: 10.1021/nn304505s. Epub 2012 Nov 12.

Single-molecule imaging and functional analysis of Als adhesins and mannans during Candida albicans morphogenesis.

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Institute of Life Sciences & Institute of Condensed Matter and Nanosciences, Université catholique de Louvain, Croix du Sud, 1, bte L7.04.01., B-1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.


Cellular morphogenesis in the fungal pathogen Candida albicans is associated with changes in cell wall composition that play important roles in biofilm formation and immune responses. Yet, how fungal morphogenesis modulates the biophysical properties and interactions of the cell surface molecules is poorly understood, mainly owing to the paucity of high-resolution imaging techniques. Here, we use single-molecule atomic force microscopy to localize and analyze the key components of the surface of living C. albicans cells during morphogenesis. We show that the yeast-to-hypha transition leads to a major increase in the distribution, adhesion, unfolding, and extension of Als adhesins and their associated mannans on the cell surface. We also find that morphogenesis dramatically increases cell surface hydrophobicity. These molecular changes are critical for microbe-host interactions, including adhesion, colonization, and biofilm formation. The single-molecule experiments presented here offer promising prospects for understanding how microbial pathogens use cell surface molecules to modulate biofilm and immune interactions.

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