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J Biol Inorg Chem. 2014 Jun;19(4-5):595-603. doi: 10.1007/s00775-013-1045-x. Epub 2013 Sep 17.

Species-specific activation of Cu/Zn SOD by its CCS copper chaperone in the pathogenic yeast Candida albicans.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, 615 N. Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD, 21205, USA.


Candida albicans is a pathogenic yeast of important public health relevance. Virulence of C. albicans requires a copper and zinc containing superoxide dismutase (SOD1), but the biology of C. albicans SOD1 is poorly understood. To this end, C. albicans SOD1 activation was examined in baker's yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), a eukaryotic expression system that has proven fruitful for the study of SOD1 enzymes from invertebrates, plants, and mammals. In spite of the 80% similarity between S. cerevisiae and C. albicans SOD1 molecules, C. albicans SOD1 is not active in S. cerevisiae. The SOD1 appears incapable of productive interactions with the copper chaperone for SOD1 (CCS1) of S. cerevisiae. C. albicans SOD1 contains a proline at position 144 predicted to dictate dependence on CCS1. By mutation of this proline, C. albicans SOD1 gained activity in S. cerevisiae, and this activity was independent of CCS1. We identified a putative CCS1 gene in C. albicans and created heterozygous and homozygous gene deletions at this locus. Loss of CCS1 resulted in loss of SOD1 activity, consistent with its role as a copper chaperone. C. albicans CCS1 also restored activity to C. albicans SOD1 expressed in S. cerevisiae. C. albicans CCS1 is well adapted for activating its partner SOD1 from C. albicans, but not SOD1 from S. cerevisiae. In spite of the high degree of homology between the SOD1 and CCS1 molecules in these two fungal species, there exists a species-specific barrier in CCS-SOD interactions which may reflect the vastly different lifestyles of the pathogenic versus the noninfectious yeast.

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