Hydrophobic surface protein masking by the opportunistic fungal pathogen Candida albicans.


Ultrastructural and biochemical analyses of hydrophobic and hydrophilic yeast cell surface proteins of Candida albicans were performed. Hydrophobic and hydrophilic yeast cells were obtained by growth at 23 and 37 degrees C, respectively. In addition, hydrophilic yeast cells were converted to surface hydrophobicity by treatment with tunicamycin and dithiothreitol. When freeze-etched cells were examined, the temperature-induced hydrophilic cells had long (0.198 micron), compact, evenly distributed fibrils while temperature-induced hydrophobic cells had short (0.085 micron), blunt fibrils. Hydrophobic microsphere attachment to the hydrophobic cells occurred at the basement of and within the short fibril layer. Dithiothreitol-induced hydrophobic cells had the long fibrils removed; tunicamycin-induced hydrophobic cells retained some of the long fibrils, but the fibrils were less compact and more aggregated than the untreated controls. These results suggest that the long fibrils prevent hydrophobic microsphere attachment to the hydrophobic area of the cell surface. This was confirmed by assessing the hydrophobic avidity of hydrophobic yeast cell populations differing in fibril density and arrangement. 125I-labelled surface proteins from hydrophobic and hydrophilic cells were compared after separation by hydrophobic interaction chromatography-high-performance liquid chromatography and analyzed by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and autoradiography. The yeast cell populations had hydrophilic proteins of similar molecular masses (greater than 200 kDa), but the hydrophilic cells possessed at least two additional proteins (ca. 63 and 69 to 71 kDa). Hydrophobic surface proteins appeared to be similar. However, the amount of total radiolabelled hydrophobic proteins was approximately 10-fold higher for the hydrophobic cells than for the hydrophilic cells. This result agrees with the ultrastructural observations which showed that yeast cell surface hydrophobic proteins are masked by hydrophilic high-molecular-mass surface fibrils. Taken together, the data indicate that yeast cell hydrophobicity is not determined by differences in surface hydrophobic proteins but by the presence of hydrophilic, surface fibrils.

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