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SPECIALITY



        From yeast to hypha:




        How Candida albicans



        makes the switch






        C. albicans’ ability to shift forms can help it cause dangerous infections, and
        a study suggests that a protein called Sir2 aids this transition
































               Microscope images show Candida albicans in two distinct forms: as single-celled yeast (left), and in an elongated, thread-like
               form called a true hypha (right). Research suggests that a protein called Sir2 is among factors that help determine which of
               these forms C. albicans takes. Credit: Guolei Zhao

              ou might call Candida          the journal mSphere, University     “elongated hyphae form” are
              albicans a shape-shifter:      at Buffalo biologists Guolei Zhao   “essential to infection,” helping C.
        YAs this fungus grows, it can        and Laura Rusche report that a      albicans invade different niches of
        multiply as single, oval-shaped      protein called Sir2 may facilitate C.   the human body.
        cells called yeast or propagate in   albicans’ transition from ovoid yeast
        an elongated form called hypha,      to thread-like hypha. C. albicans   The influence of Sir2 on
        consisting of thread-like filaments.  cells that were missing the Sir2   morphology differed depending
                                             gene were less likely to form true   on the cells’ surroundings: In a
        This dual nature can help the        hyphae in lab experiments than      nutrient-poor environment, C.
        pathogen survive in the body, where   cells of the same species that had   albicans cells that were missing
        it can cause disease, including      that gene.                          the Sir2 gene were less likely
        dangerous hospital-acquired                                              to form both true hyphae and
        infections.                          “When we got rid of the Sir2 gene,   pseudohyphae, a sort of in-between
                                             we saw less of the true hyphae      stage where the cells are elongated
        But how does this switching ability   form,” says Zhao, first author and   and grow in chains. But in a
        occur?                               a PhD candidate in biological       nutrient-rich situation, C. albicans
                                             sciences in the UB College of Arts   lacking the Sir2 gene formed
        New research identifies one factor   and Sciences. This is interesting,
        that may contribute. In a study      she says, because both the                                    10
        that will be published on May 5 in   “tiny round yeast form” and the



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