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A Novel Small Molecule Methyltransferase Is Important for Virulence in Candida albicans

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journal contribution
posted on 20.12.2013, 00:00 by Elena Lissina, David Weiss, Brian Young, Antonella Rella, Kahlin Cheung-Ong, Maurizio Del Poeta, Steven G. Clarke, Guri Giaever, Corey Nislow
Candida albicans is an opportunistic pathogen capable of causing life-threatening infections in immunocompromised individuals. Despite its significant health impact, our understanding of C. albicans pathogenicity is limited, particularly at the molecular level. One of the largely understudied enzyme families in C. albicans are small molecule AdoMet-dependent methyltransferases (smMTases), which are important for maintenance of cellular homeostasis by clearing toxic chemicals, generating novel cellular intermediates, and regulating intra- and interspecies interactions. In this study, we demonstrated that C. albicans Crg1 (CaCrg1) is a bona fide smMTase that interacts with the toxin in vitro and in vivo. We report that CaCrg1 is important for virulence-related processes such as adhesion, hyphal elongation, and membrane trafficking. Biochemical and genetic analyses showed that CaCrg1 plays a role in the complex sphingolipid pathway: it binds to exogenous short-chain ceramides in vitro and interacts genetically with genes of glucosylceramide pathway, and the deletion of CaCRG1 leads to significant changes in the abundance of phytoceramides. Finally we found that this novel lipid-related smMTase is required for virulence in the waxmoth Galleria mellonella, a model of infection.

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