Candida albicans is a diploid yeast with a dimorphic life history. It exists commensally in many healthy humans but becomes a potent pathogen in immunocompromised hosts. The underlying genetic mechanisms by which C. albicans switches from a commensal to a pathogenic form in the host are not well understood. To study the evolution of virulence in mammalian hosts, we used GAL1 as selectable marker system that allows for both positive and negative selection in selective media. We show that the deletion of one or both copies of GAL1 in the C. albicans genome does not change virulence in a systemic mouse model. We obtained estimates for the frequency of mitotic recombination at the GAL1 locus during systemic infection. Our observations suggest that genetic changes such as mitotic recombination and gene conversion occur at a high enough frequency to be important in the transition of C. albicans from a commensal to a pathogenic organism.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank David Kirkpatrick and Beatrice Magee for critically reading the manuscript. This work was supported by a NIH Grant AI46351 awarded to P.T.M. and G.M.
- Candida albicans
- Genomic rearrangement
- Mitotic recombination in vivo
- Selectable marker