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Unravelling the infectome of Candida albicans

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Working towards fungal infection treatment

Patients with impaired immune systems can be vulnerable to serious infection from the fungus Candida albicans. An EU-funded project has investigated how the infection is caused and how it can be treated.

Health

Infection depends upon a number of factors, although exactly how the fungus causes disease has not been clearly understood, until now. One of the main factors behind C. albicans virulence is its ability to grow both as ovoid yeast cells and as long, branching filamentous structures called hyphae. The 'Unravelling the infectome of Candida albicans' (Cainfectome) project has identified new molecular mechanisms that can contribute to the microorganism's ability to cause infection. Research has involved the analysis of models of oral, liver and blood infection. The models have successfully identified aspects of gene expression during infection. Project partners selected a set of 40 previously uncharacterised genes involved in infection and removed genes of interest through targeted deletion. The result has been the creation of a set of infection-associated gene deletion mutants. The mutant set was then screened for the potential ability to cause disease in two infection models. Data from the Cainfectome project will help scientists understand how C. albicans rapidly alters the way its genes are expressed in response to a changing environment. In so doing, the initiative will enable EU scientists to provide an answer to this serious medical problem.

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