Niche-Specific Requirement for Hyphal Wall protein 1 in Virulence of Candida albicans
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Specialized Candida albicans cell surface proteins called adhesins mediate binding of the fungus to host cells. The mammalian transglutaminase (TG) substrate and adhesin, Hyphal wall protein 1 (Hwp1), is expressed on the hyphal form of C. albicans where it mediates fungal adhesion to epithelial cells. Hwp1 is also required for biofilm formation and mating thus the protein functions in both fungal-host and self-interactions. Hwp1 is required for full virulence of C. albicans in murine models of disseminated candidiasis and of esophageal candidiasis. Previous studies correlated TG activity on the surface of oral epithelial cells, produced by epithelial TG (TG1), with tight binding of C. albicans via Hwp1 to the host cell surfaces. However, the contribution of other Tgs, specifically tissue TG (TG2), to disseminated candidiasis mediated by Hwp1 was not known. A newly created hwp1 null strain in the wild type SC5314 background was as virulent as the parental strain in C57BL/6 mice, and virulence was retained in C57BL/6 mice deleted for Tgm2 (TG2). Further, the hwp1 null strains displayed modestly reduced virulence in BALB/c mice as did strain DD27-U1, an independently created hwp1Δ/Δ in CAI4 corrected for its ura3Δ defect at the URA3 locus. Hwp1 was still needed to produce wild type biofilms, and persist on murine tongues in an oral model of oropharyngeal candidiasis consistent with previous studies by us and others. Finally, lack of Hwp1 affected the translocation of C. albicans from the mouse intestine into the bloodstream of mice. Together, Hwp1 appears to have a minor role in disseminated candidiasis, independent of tissue TG, but a key function in host- and self-association to the surface of oral mucosa.