The zinc-finger transcription factor, Ofi1, regulates white–opaque switching and filamentation in the yeast Candida albicans

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Candida albicans is a major fungal pathogen of humans. The most striking biological feature of C. albicans is its phenotypic plasticity, allowing it to undergo morphological transitions in response to various environmental cues. Transcription factors play critical roles in the regulation of morphological transitions. Here, we report the role of opaque and filamentation inducer 1 (Ofi1), a previously uncharacterized zinc-finger-containing protein encoded by the gene orf19.4972, in the regulation of white–opaque switching and filamentous growth. Over-expression of OFI1 not only induced white-to-opaque switching but also promoted filamentation and invasive growth in C. albicans. Deletion of OFI1 had no obvious effect on filamentation under the culture conditions tested, while deletion of OFI1 reduced the frequency of white-to-opaque switching. We propose that Ofi1 functions downstream of Wor1, the master regulator of white–opaque switching. However, over-expression of OFI1 in the wor1/wor1 mutant could not induce the opaque phenotype, suggesting that Ofi1 does not work alone and other transcription factors downstream of Wor1 are also involved in this regulation. Given the importance of Ofi1 in the regulation of white–opaque switching and filamentation, the present study establishes a new link between these two processes.

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