Crosstalk between the calcineurin and cell wall integrity pathways prevents chitin overexpression in Candida albicans

Alessandra da Silva Dantas, Filomena Nogueira, Keunsook K. Lee, Louise A. Walker, Matt Edmondson, Alexandra C. Brand, Megan D. Lenardon, Neil A.R. Gow*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Echinocandins such as caspofungin are frontline antifungal drugs that compromise β-1,3 glucan synthesis in the cell wall. Recent reports have shown that fungal cells can resist killing by caspofungin by upregulation of chitin synthesis, thereby sustaining cell wall integrity (CWI). When echinocandins are removed, the chitin content of cells quickly returns to basal levels, suggesting that there is a fitness cost associated with having elevated levels of chitin in the cell wall. We show here that simultaneous activation of the calcineurin and CWI pathways generates a subpopulation of Candida albicans yeast cells that have supra-normal chitin levels interspersed throughout the inner and outer cell wall, and that these cells are non-viable, perhaps due to loss of wall elasticity required for cell expansion and growth. Mutations in the Ca2+-calcineurin pathway prevented the formation of these non-viable supra-high chitin cells by negatively regulating chitin synthesis driven by the CWI pathway. The Ca2+-calcineurin pathway may therefore act as an attenuator that prevents the overproduction of chitin by coordinating both chitin upregulation and negative regulation of the CWI signaling pathway.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberjcs258889
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Volume134
Issue number24
Early online date9 Nov 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021

Keywords

  • Antifungal drug
  • Ca-calcineurin
  • Caspofungin
  • Cell wall stress
  • Chitin
  • Echinocandins

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