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Roles of Candida albicans Mig1 and Mig2 in glucose repression, pathogenicity traits, and SNF1 essentiality


Metabolic adaptation is linked to the ability of the opportunistic pathogen Candida albicans to colonize and cause infection in diverse host tissues. One way that C. albicans controls its metabolism is through the glucose repression pathway, where expression of alternative carbon source utilization genes is repressed in the presence of its preferred carbon source, glucose. Here we carry out genetic and gene expression studies that identify transcription factors Mig1 and Mig2 as mediators of glucose repression in C. albicans. The well-studied Mig1/2 orthologs ScMig1/2 mediate glucose repression in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae; our data argue that C. albicans Mig1/2 function similarly as repressors of alternative carbon source utilization genes. However, Mig1/2 functions have several distinctive features in C. albicans. First, Mig1 and Mig2 have more co-equal roles in gene regulation than their S. cerevisiae orthologs. Second, Mig1 is regulated at the level of protein accumulation, more akin to ScMig2 than ScMig1. Third, Mig1 and Mig2 are together required for a unique aspect of C. albicans biology, the expression of several pathogenicity traits. Such Mig1/2-dependent traits include the abilities to form hyphae and biofilm, tolerance of cell wall inhibitors, and ability to damage macrophage-like cells and human endothelial cells. Finally, Mig1 is required for a puzzling feature of C. albicans biology that is not shared with S. cerevisiae: the essentiality of the Snf1 protein kinase, a central eukaryotic carbon metabolism regulator. Our results integrate Mig1 and Mig2 into the C. albicans glucose repression pathway and illuminate connections among carbon control, pathogenicity, and Snf1 essentiality.

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