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PLoS One. 2017 Nov 6;12(11):e0187721. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0187721. eCollection 2017.

Yeast casein kinase 2 governs morphology, biofilm formation, cell wall integrity, and host cell damage of Candida albicans.

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Division of Infectious Diseases, Chonnam National University Medical School, Gwangju, South Korea.
Department of Biological Sciences, California State University, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, United States of America.
Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, California, United States of America.


The regulatory networks governing morphogenesis of a pleomorphic fungus, Candida albicans are extremely complex and remain to be completely elucidated. This study investigated the function of C. albicans yeast casein kinase 2 (CaYck2p). The yck2Δ/yck2Δ strain displayed constitutive pseudohyphae in both yeast and hyphal growth conditions, and formed enhanced biofilm under non-biofilm inducing condition. This finding was further supported by gene expression analysis of the yck2Δ/yck2Δ strain which showed significant upregulation of UME6, a key transcriptional regulator of hyphal transition and biofilm formation, and cell wall protein genes ALS3, HWP1, and SUN41, all of which are associated with morphogenesis and biofilm architecture. The yck2Δ/yck2Δ strain was hypersensitive to cell wall damaging agents and had increased compensatory chitin deposition in the cell wall accompanied by an upregulation of the expression of the chitin synthase genes, CHS2, CHS3, and CHS8. Absence of CaYck2p also affected fungal-host interaction; the yck2Δ/yck2Δ strain had significantly reduced ability to damage host cells. However, the yck2Δ/yck2Δ strain had wild-type susceptibility to cyclosporine and FK506, suggesting that CaYck2p functions independently from the Ca+/calcineurin pathway. Thus, in C. albicans, Yck2p is a multifunctional kinase that governs morphogenesis, biofilm formation, cell wall integrity, and host cell interactions.

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