Candida albicans sun41p, a putative glycosidase, is involved in morphogenesis, cell wall biogenesis, and biofilm formation
The SUN gene family has been defined in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and comprises a fungus-specific family of proteins which show high similarity in their C-terminal domains. Genes of this family are involved in different cellular processes, like DNA replication, aging, mitochondrial biogenesis, and cytokinesis. In Candida albicans the SUN family comprises two genes, SUN41 and SIM1. We demonstrate that C albicans mutants lacking SUN41 show similar defects as found for S. cerevisiae, including defects in cytokinesis. In addition, the SUN41 mutant showed a higher sensitivity towards the cell wall-disturbing agent Congo red, whereas no difference was observed in the presence of calcofluor white. Compared to the wild type, SUN41 deletion strains exhibited a defect in biofilm formation, a reduced adherence on a Caco-2 cell monolayer, and were unable to form hyphae on solid medium under the conditions tested. Interestingly, Sun41p was found to be secreted in the medium of cells growing as blastospores as well as those forming hyphae. Our results support a function of SUN41p as a glycosidase involved in cytokinesis, cell wall biogenesis, adhesion to host tissue, and biofilm formation, indicating an important role in the host-pathogen interaction.