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Open Access Publications from the University of California

N-Acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) Sensing, Utilization, and Functions in Candida albicans.

  • Author(s): Du, Han
  • Ennis, Craig L
  • Hernday, Aaron D
  • Nobile, Clarissa J
  • Huang, Guanghua
  • et al.

The sensing and efficient utilization of environmental nutrients are critical for the survival of microorganisms in environments where nutrients are limited, such as within mammalian hosts. Candida albicans is a common member of the human microbiota as well as an opportunistic fungal pathogen. The amide derivative sugar N-acetlyglucosamine (GlcNAc) is an important signaling molecule for C. albicans that could be a major nutrient source for this fungus in host settings. In this article, we review progress made over the past two decades on GlcNAc utilization, sensing, and functions in C. albicans and its related fungal species. GlcNAc sensing and catabolic pathways have been intensively studied in C. albicans. The C. albicans protein Ngt1 represents the first identified GlcNAc-specific transporter in eukaryotic organisms. In C. albicans, GlcNAc not only induces morphological transitions including the yeast to hyphal transition and the white to opaque phenotypic switch, but it also promotes fungal cell death. The Ras-cAMP/PKA signaling pathway plays critical roles in regulating these processes. Given the importance of GlcNAc sensing and utilization in C. albicans, targeting GlcNAc associated pathways and key pathway components could be promising in the development of new antifungal strategies.

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