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Grace under fire: when stressed, Candida mutates and adapts

When Candida albicans encounters stressful conditions, does it curl up and die? No! According to a paper just published in mBio, this crafty pathogen gets to work on its inventory of genes, slashing away until it finds a winning combination that can get it through the tough times. (I’ve written up other mBio papers about Candida---http://goo.gl/z8p95 and http://goo.gl/Kuq4W---I think I am gaining a grudging respect for this feisty fungus.)

In laboratory experiments, Forche et al. put Candida through the wringer by subjecting it to different physiologically stressful conditions, including increases in temperature (mimicking a moderate fever in a human), oxidative stress (mimicking the production of reactive oxygen species by immune cells) and antifungal stress (fluconazole, the most widely and commonly used antifungal drug). Like us, Candida is in possession of two sets of chromosomes, so it is heterozygous for many genes (it carries two different copies of them). If Candida shuffles its genes around, it inevitably loses some of these genes and finds itself with two identical copies of these genes where it once had two different copies. The authors call this “Loss of Heterozygosity”, or LOH.

(Click on the “source” link to read more on mBio’s blog, mBiosphere.)

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