Functional control of the Candida albicans cell wall by catalytic protein kinase A subunit Tpk1


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The cyclic AMP protein kinase A pathway governs numerous biological features of the fungal pathogen Candida albicans. The catalytic protein kinase A subunits, Tpk1 (orf19.4892) and Tpk2 (orf19.2277), have divergent roles, and most studies indicate a more pronounced role for Tpk2. Here we dissect two Tpk1-responsive properties: adherence and cell wall integrity. Homozygous tpk1/tpk1 mutants are hyperadherent, and a Tpk1 defect enables biofilm formation in the absence of Bcr1, a transcriptional regulator of biofilm adhesins. A quantitative gene expression-based assay reveals that tpk1/tpk1 and bcr1/bcr1 genotypes show mixed epistasis, as expected if Tpk1 and Bcr1 act mainly in distinct pathways. Overexpression of individual Tpk1-repressed genes indicates that cell surface proteins Als1, Als2, Als4, Csh1 and Csp37 contribute to Tpk1-regulated adherence. Tpk1 is also required for cell wall integrity, but has no role in the gene expression response to cell wall inhibition by caspofungin. Interestingly, increased expression of the adhesin gene ALS2 confers a cell wall defect, as manifested in hypersensitivity to the cell wall inhibitor caspofungin and a shallow cell wall structure. Our findings indicate that Tpk1 governs C. albicans cell wall properties through repression of select cell surface protein genes.