Modular domain structure in the Candida glabrata adhesin Epa1p, a β1,6 glucan-cross-linked cell wall protein

Matthew B. Frieman, J. Michael McCaffery, Brendan P. Cormack

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The yeast pathogen Candida glabrata adheres avidly to cultured human epithelial cells. This interaction depends on the expression of EPA1, which encodes a lectin belonging to a large family of GPI-anchored glucan-cross-linked cell wall proteins (GPI-CWPs) found in diverse fungal species. To understand the relationship between different domains of EPA1 and its function, we have mapped functional domains of Epa1p and analysed their contribution to Epa1p function. We found that the N-terminal third of the protein contains the ligand-binding domain, and that the GPI anchor is essential both for cross-linking in the cell wall and for Epa1p-mediated adherence. We also found that the C-terminal Ser/Thr-rich domain, characteristic of many GPI-CWPs, was absolutely essential for function. Although Epa1p derivatives lacking the Ser/Thr domain were expressed abundantly in the cell wall, they were localized to internal layers of the cell wall; such constructs were unable to mediate adherence. The outer layer of the yeast cell wall is known to act as a permeability barrier; we found that the C-terminal Ser/Thr-rich region was absolutely required to project the N-terminal domain of Epa1p through this permeability barrier and into the external environment. Thus, the Ser/Thr-rich domain of Epa1p and, presumably, of other related GPI-CWPs serves an essential structural role in localization of the protein at the external surface of the yeast cell where it can interact with its ligand. In conclusion, Epa1p has a modular structure, with each domain serving a distinct and essential role in the function of the adhesin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)479-492
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 26 2002


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology

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