Until recently, NADPH oxidase (NOX) enzymes were thought to be a property of multicellularity, where the reactive oxygen species (ROS) produced by NOX acts in signaling processes or in attacking invading microbes through oxidative damage. We demonstrate here that the unicellular yeast and opportunistic fungal pathogen Candida albicans is capable of a ROS burst using a member of the NOX enzyme family, which we identify as Fre8. C. albicans can exist in either a unicellular yeast-like budding form or as filamentous multicellular hyphae or pseudohyphae, and the ROS burst of Fre8 begins as cells transition to the hyphal state. Fre8 is induced during hyphal morphogenesis and specifically produces ROS at the growing tip of the polarized cell. The superoxide dismutase Sod5 is co-induced with Fre8 and our findings are consistent with a model in which extracellular Sod5 acts as partner for Fre8, converting Fre8-derived superoxide to the diffusible H2O2molecule. Mutants of fre8Δ/Δ exhibit a morphogenesis defect in vitro and are specifically impaired in development or maintenance of elongated hyphae, a defect that is rescued by exogenous sources of H2O2. A fre8Δ/Δ deficiency in hyphal development was similarly observed in vivo during C. albicans invasion of the kidney in a mouse model for disseminated candidiasis. Moreover C. albicans fre8Δ/Δ mutants showed defects in a rat catheter model for biofilms. Together these studies demonstrate that like multicellular organisms, C. albicans expresses NOX to produce ROS and this ROS helps drive fungal morphogenesis in the animal host.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology