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Lipid Raft Polarization Contributes to Hyphal Growth in Candida albicans

American Society for Microbiology
Publication Date
  • Biology


The polarization of sterol- and sphingolipid-enriched domains (lipid rafts) has been linked to morphogenesis and cell movement in diverse cell types. In the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a dramatic polarization of sterol-rich domains to the shmoo tip was observed in pheromone-induced cells (M. Bagnat and K. Simons, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 99:14183-14188, 2002). We therefore examined whether plasma membrane lipid polarization contributes to the ability of the fungal pathogen Candida albicans to grow in a highly polarized manner to form hyphae. Interestingly, staining with filipin revealed that membrane sterols were highly polarized to the leading edge of growth during all stages of hyphal growth. Budding and pseudohyphal cells did not display polarized staining. Filipin staining was also enriched at septation sites in hyphae, where colocalization with septin proteins was observed, suggesting a role for the septins in forming a boundary domain. Actin appeared to play a role in sterol polarization and hyphal morphogenesis in that both were disrupted by low concentrations of latrunculin A that did not prevent budding. Furthermore, blocking either sphingolipid biosynthesis with myriocin or sterol biosynthesis with ketoconazole resulted in a loss of ergosterol polarization and caused abnormal hyphal morphogenesis, suggesting that lipid rafts are involved. Since hyphal growth is required for the full virulence of C. albicans, these results suggest that membrane polarization may contribute to the pathogenesis of this organism.


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