The protein secretory pathway of Candida albicans


William A. Fonzi, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Georgetown University, 3900 Reservoir Road, N.W., Washington, DC 20057-2197, USA. Tel.: +1 202 687 1135. Fax: +1 202 687 1135. E-mail:


Virulence of the opportunistic pathogen, Candida albicans, relies on an assemblage of attributes. These include the secretion of hydrolytic enzymes, cell surface adhesins, morphological transition between yeast and hyphae, phenotypic switching and biofilm formation. These diverse features are united by their dependence on the protein secretory apparatus for expression. Although the secretory apparatus of C. albicans has been studied limitedly, it appears to conform to the well-conserved eukaryotic system of vesicle-mediated transport between intracellular compartments and the cell surface. Genome comparison with Saccharomyces cerevisiae, however, shows multiple differences whose functional significance is yet unstudied. A unique aspect of the secretory pathway of C. albicans is its structural, and perhaps functional, rearrangement in hyphal vs. yeast cells. This, and evidence of non-conserved secretion mechanism(s), suggest that there is much fundamental knowledge to be derived from the analysis of secretion in C. albicans, which will be relevant to its ability to cause disease.