The genomic plasticity of Candida albicans, a commensal and common opportunistic fungal pathogen, continues to reveal unexpected surprises. Once thought to be asexual, we now know that the organism can generate genetic diversity through several mechanisms, including mating between cells of the opposite or of the same mating type and by a parasexual reduction in chromosome number that can be accompanied by recombination events (2, 12, 14, 53, 77, 115). In addition, dramatic genome changes can appear quite rapidly in mitotic cells propagated in vitro as well as in vivo. The detection of aneuploidy in other fungal pathogens isolated directly from patients (145) and from environmental samples (71) suggests that variations in chromosome organization and copy number are a common mechanism used by pathogenic fungi to rapidly generate diversity in response to stressful growth conditions, including, but not limited to, antifungal drug exposure. Since cancer cells often become polyploid and/or aneuploid, some of the lessons learned from studies of genome plasticity in C. albicans may provide important insights into how these processes occur in higher-eukaryotic cells exposed to stresses such as anticancer drugs.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology