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Mol Cell Biol. 1995 Feb;15(2):601-13.

PHR1, a pH-regulated gene of Candida albicans, is required for morphogenesis.

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, California College of Medicine, University of California, Irvine 92717.


Candida albicans, like many fungi, exhibits morphological plasticity, a property which may be related to its biological capacity as an opportunistic pathogen of humans. Morphogenesis and alterations in cell shape require integration of many cellular functions and occur in response to environmental signals, most notably pH and temperature in the case of C. albicans. In the course of our studies of differential gene expression associated with dimorphism of C. albicans, we have isolated a gene, designated PHR1, which is regulated in response to the pH of the culture medium. PHR1 expression was repressed at pH values below 5.5 and induced at more alkaline pH. The predicted amino acid sequence of the PHR1 protein was 56% identical to that of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae Ggp1/Gas1 protein, a highly glycosylated cell surface protein attached to the membrane via glycosylphosphatidylinositol. A homozygous null mutant of PHR1 was constructed and found to exhibit a pH-conditional morphological defect. At alkaline pH, the mutant, unlike the parental type, was unable to conduct apical growth of either yeast or hyphal growth forms. This morphological aberration was not associated with defective cytoskeletal polarization or secretion. The results suggest that PHR1 defines a novel function required for apical cell growth and morphogenesis.

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