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Integration of the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle with cAMP signaling and Sfl2 pathways in the regulation of CO2 sensing and hyphal development in Candida albicans


Morphological transitions and metabolic regulation are critical for the human fungal pathogen Candida albicans to adapt to the changing host environment. In this study, we generated a library of central metabolic pathway mutants in the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, and investigated the functional consequences of these gene deletions on C. albicans biology. Inactivation of the TCA cycle impairs the ability of C. albicans to utilize non-fermentable carbon sources and dramatically attenuates cell growth rates under several culture conditions. By integrating the Ras1-cAMP signaling pathway and the heat shock factor-type transcription regulator Sfl2, we found that the TCA cycle plays fundamental roles in the regulation of CO2 sensing and hyphal development. The TCA cycle and cAMP signaling pathways coordinately regulate hyphal growth through the molecular linkers ATP and CO2. Inactivation of the TCA cycle leads to lowered intracellular ATP and cAMP levels and thus affects the activation of the Ras1-regulated cAMP signaling pathway. In turn, the Ras1-cAMP signaling pathway controls the TCA cycle through both Efg1- and Sfl2-mediated transcriptional regulation in response to elevated CO2 levels. The protein kinase A (PKA) catalytic subunit Tpk1, but not Tpk2, may play a major role in this regulation. Sfl2 specifically binds to several TCA cycle and hypha-associated genes under high CO2 conditions. Global transcriptional profiling experiments indicate that Sfl2 is indeed required for the gene expression changes occurring in response to these elevated CO2 levels. Our study reveals the regulatory role of the TCA cycle in CO2 sensing and hyphal development and establishes a novel link between the TCA cycle and Ras1-cAMP signaling pathways.

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