Phenotypic switching and its influence on expression of virulence factors by Candida albicans causing candidiasis in human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients.

Abstract

PURPOSE The purpose of the present study was to determine the degree of expression of virulence factors such as adherence, cell surface hydrophobicity (CSH) and production of proteinase by different morphological forms of Candida albicans causing oral candidiasis in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected individuals. METHODS C. albicans 3153A and two strains isolated from oral thrush in HIV infected individuals were induced to undergo phenotypic switching by exposure to UV light and the degree of expression of virulence factors by the different morphological forms was studied. RESULTS Three different morphological forms of C. albicans were obtained namely, star (S), wrinkled (W) and ring (R) types from the original smooth (O) variety. It was found that proteinase production was greatest with the W type followed by the R type and O type. The S type produced the least proteinase. Expression of cell surface hydrophobicity and adherence was greatest in the O type followed by the R and then the W type and finally the S type. CONCLUSIONS The differential expression of virulence factors occurs with different phenotypic forms of C. albicans and this may provide a particular morphological type with a distinct advantage over other types in causing candidiasis.

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