A conserved fungal hub protein involved in adhesion and drug resistance in the human pathogen Candida albicans

Hélène Martin-Yken (Corresponding Author), Tina Bedekovic, Alexandra C. Brand, Mathias L. Richard, Sadri Znaidi, Christophe d'Enfert, Etienne Dague

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Drug resistance and cellular adhesion are two key elements of both dissemination and prevalence of the human fungal pathogen Candida albicans. Smi1 belongs to a family of hub proteins conserved among the fungal kingdom whose functions in cellular signaling affect morphogenesis, cell wall synthesis and stress resistance. The data presented here indicate that C. albicans SMI1 is a functional homolog of Saccharomyces cerevisiae KNR4 and is involved in the regulation of cell wall synthesis. Expression of SMI1 in S. cerevisiae knr4Δ null mutants rescued their sensitivity to caspofungin and to heat stress. Deletion of SMI1 in C. albicans resulted in sensitivity to the cell-wall-perturbing compounds Calcofluor White and Caspofungin. Analysis of wild-type and mutant cells by Atomic Force Microscopy showed that the Young’s Modulus (stiffness) of the cell wall was reduced by 85% upon deletion of SMI1, while cell surface adhesion measured by Force Spectroscopy showed that the surface expression of adhesive molecules was also reduced in the mutant. Over-expression of SMI1, on the contrary, increased cell surface adhesion by 6 fold vs the control strain. Finally, Smi1-GFP localized as cytoplasmic patches and concentrated spots at the sites of new cell wall synthesis including the tips of growing hyphae, consistent with a role in cell wall regulation. Thus, Smi1 function appears to be conserved across fungi, including the yeast S. cerevisiae, the yeast and hyphal forms of C. albicans and the filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-19
Number of pages10
JournalThe Cell Surface
Early online date29 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • Fungal Cell Wall
  • Adhesion
  • Caspofungin
  • Atomic Force Microscopy
  • Candida albicans


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