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Fungal Genet Biol. 2013 May;54:15-24. doi: 10.1016/j.fgb.2013.02.006. Epub 2013 Feb 27.

Upregulation of galactose metabolic pathway by N-acetylglucosamine induced endogenous synthesis of galactose in Candida albicans.

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National Institute of Plant Genome Research, New Delhi, India.


N-Acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) is an important signaling molecule that plays multiple roles in Candida albicans. Induction of galactose metabolic pathway by GlcNAc is an intriguing aspect of C. albicans biology. In order to investigate the role of galactose metabolic genes (GAL genes) in presence of GlcNAc, we created knockouts of galactokinase (GAL1) and UDP galactose epimerase (GAL10) genes. These mutants failed to grow on galactose and also showed lower growth rate in presence of GlcNAc. Interestingly, expression of GAL genes in presence of GlcNAc was higher in gal1Δ strain relative to that of wild type strain. Moreover, no GlcNAc induced upregulation of GAL genes was observed in the gal10Δ strain suggesting that UDP galactose epimerase is essential for GlcNAc induced activation of GAL genes. GlcNAc induced expression of GAL genes was also investigated in GlcNAc metabolic pathway triple mutant N216 (hxk1Δ nag1Δ dac1Δ). Interestingly, in this mutant the GAL genes are neither induced nor repressed and remain derepressed as found on a neutral carbon source such as glycerol, suggesting that catabolism of GlcNAc play an important role in the expression of GAL genes. GC/MS analysis of derivatized metabolites revealed a significant accumulation of galactose in the gal1Δ strain while no galactose was detected in gal10Δ and N216 strain. Solution-state NMR spectroscopy using N-acetyl-¹³C₁-glucosamine confirmed the flow of ¹³C label from GlcNAc to galactose. Thus, internal galactose synthesized via UDP galactose pathway from GlcNAc metabolites acts as the inducer of GAL genes in presence of GlcNAc.

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