Co-occurence of filamentation defects and impaired biofilms in Candida albicans protein kinase mutants

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Pathogenicity of Candida albicans is linked with its developmental stages, notably the capacity switch from yeast-like to hyphal growth, and to form biofilms on surfaces. To better understand the cellular processes involved in C. albicans development, a collection of 63 C. albicans protein kinase mutants was screened for biofilm formation in a microtitre plate assay. Thirty-eight mutants displayed some degree of biofilm impairment, with 20 categorised as poor biofilm formers. All the poor biofilm formers were also defective in the switch from yeast to hyphae, establishing it as a primary defect. Five genes, VPS15, IME2, PKH3, PGA43 and CEX1, encode proteins not previously reported to influence hyphal development or biofilm formation. Network analysis established that individual components of some processes, most interestingly MAP kinase pathways, are not required for biofilm formation, most likely indicating functional redundancy. Mutants were also screened for their response to bacterial supernatants and it was found that Pseudomonas aeruginosa supernatants inhibited biofilm formation in all mutants, regardless of the presence of homoserine lactones (HSLs). In contrast, Candida morphology was only affected by supernatant containing HSLs. This confirms the distinct HSL-dependent inhibition of filamentation and the HSL-independent impairment of biofilm development by P. aeruginosa.

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