Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
Here, we report an indispensable role for spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) component CaMad2p in the survival and virulence of Candida albicans in mice. We hypothesized that cell cycle checkpoint functions, especially those monitoring the integrity of DNA and chromosome segregation, might be required for the pathogen to repair damage caused by host defence. To test this idea, we created SAC-defective mutants by deleting the CaMAD2 gene that encodes a key component of the SAC pathway. The CaMAD2 mutant appears normal in morphology, growth rate and growth mode switch in unperturbed conditions. However, it quickly loses viability when treated with nocodazole, which causes disassembly of mitotic spindles. The mutant also exhibits increased frequency of chromosome loss. The virulence of the mutant is greatly reduced in mice, presumably because of the inability of the mutant cells to stop the cell cycle when the host defence damages cellular components important for chromosome segregation. Supporting this hypothesis, unlike the wild-type cells that can proliferate within and eventually grow out of macrophages, most of the CaMAD2 null mutant cells are unable to survive. This study suggests that SAC is required for survival of C. albicans in the host and could thus be targeted for anti-C. albicans therapies.
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