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Researchers uncover molecular pathway through which common yeast becomes fungal pathogen
Date:3/16/2012

vated temperature or compromise of Hsp90 function, and instead we found an entirely new pathway, with components that haven't been characterized in Candida, so it was very surprising," said Prof. Cowen.

The researchers also showed that deletion of Hms1 inhibits Candida albicans infection, pointing toward a possible clinical therapy. "We observed those weaker disease phenotypes in an insect model system, but the results suggest it may also work in more complicated systems," said Prof. Cowen.

The source of pesky vaginal and gut infections, Candida albicans is a burgeoning problem on implanted medical devicesit's fatal in roughly one-third of device-associated infectionsand is the fourth-leading cause of hospital-acquired infection. The number of acquired fungal bloodstream infections has increased by more than 200% over the last twenty years, owing in part to growing numbers of AIDS and cancer survivors whose treatments have compromised their immune function.

On finding that the Hms1 pathway affects the growth and development of Candida albicans, and knowing of other key regulators through which Hsp90 operates and suspecting many more exist, Prof. Cowen and her lab examined other pathways and proteins that interact with Hsp90 in another study.

In collaboration with Professor Gary Bader at U of T's Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research, Prof. Cowen's group mapped a much larger portion of the chaperone network with which Hsp90 interacts through a "chemical genomics" approach that had never been applied to Candida albicans. "If we want to have a more global understanding of what Hsp90 is doing during the transition of this fungus between distinct morphological states with different disease causing properties, we need to take global approaches to determine what its interacting with," said Prof. Cowen.

Their results, published online today in the journal PLoS Genetics, showed 226 gene
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Contact: Jim Oldfield
jim.oldfield@utoronto.ca
416-946-8423
University of Toronto
Source:Eurekalert

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