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Keywords:

  • Candida albicans;
  • antimicrobial peptide;
  • calcium signalling;
  • transcription profiling

Abstract

MUC7 12-mer is a cationic antimicrobial peptide derived from the N-terminal region of human low-molecular-weight salivary mucin. In order to gain new insights into the modes of action of the 12-mer against opportunistic fungal pathogen Candida albicans, we examined changes in the gene expression profile of C. albicans upon exposure to this peptide. Cells at an early logarithmic phase were exposed to 6 μM peptide and grown until an OD600 nm of approximately 0.4 was reached. Changes in gene expression were determined by microarray analysis and showed that 19 out of the total of 531 genes, whose expression was elevated in response to the peptide, are regulated by the calcium/calcineurin signalling pathway. Inactivation of this pathway by deletions, or by FK506, caused hypersensitivity to the peptide, demonstrating the importance of this pathway to the defense of C. albicans against the MUC7 peptide. Other differentially expressed genes that were detected include those encoding subunits of proteasome, and genes involved in cell stress, iron metabolism, cell wall maintenance and small-molecule transport. The presented results suggest that the calcium/calcineurin signalling pathway plays a role in the adaptation of C. albicans to the MUC7 antimicrobial peptide.