Polarized cells reorient their direction of growth in response to environmental cues. In the fungus Candida albicans, the Rho-family small GTPase, Cdc42, is essential for polarized hyphal growth and Ca2+ influx is required for the tropic responses of hyphae to environmental cues, but the regulatory link between these systems is unclear. In this study, the interaction between Ca2+ influx and Cdc42 polarity-complex dynamics was investigated using hyphal galvanotropic and thigmotropic responses as reporter systems. During polarity establishment in an applied electric field, cathodal emergence of hyphae was lost when either of the two Cdc42 apical recycling pathways was disrupted by deletion of Rdi1, a guanine nucleotide dissociation inhibitor, or Bnr1, a formin, but was completely restored by extracellular Ca2+. Loss of the Cdc42 GTPase activating proteins, Rga2 and Bem3, also abolished cathodal polarization, but this was not rescued by Ca2+. Expression of GTP-locked Cdc42 reversed the polarity of hypha emergence from cathodal to anodal, an effect augmented by Ca2+. The cathodal directional cue therefore requires Cdc42 GTP hydrolysis. Ca2+ influx amplifies Cdc42-mediated directional growth signals, in part by augmenting Cdc42 apical trafficking. The Ca2+-binding EF-hand motif in Cdc24, the Cdc42 activator, was essential for growth in yeast cells but not in established hyphae. The Cdc24 EF-hand motif is therefore essential for polarity establishment but not for polarity maintenance.
Brand, A. C., Morrison, E., Milne, S., Gonia, S., Gale, C. A., & Gow, N. A. R. (2014). Cdc42 GTPase dynamics control directional growth responses. PNAS, 111(2), 811-816. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1307264111