Candida albicans produces large amounts of the pentitol D-arabitol in culture and in infected mammalian hosts, but the functional and pathogenic significance of D-arabitol in C. albicans is not known. In this study, we sought to elucidate the pathway by which C. albicans synthesizes D-arabitol and to identify and characterize key enzymes in this pathway. C. albicans B311 produced D-[14C-1]arabitol from [14C-2]glucose; this finding implies on structural grounds that D-ribulose-5-PO4 from the pentose pathway is the major metabolic precursor of D-arabitol. NAD- or NADP-dependent pentitol dehydrogenases catalyze the final steps in D-arabitol biosynthesis in other fungi; therefore, lysates of C. albicans B311 were tested for enzymes of this class and were found to contain a previously unknown NAD-dependent D-arabitol dehydrogenase (ArDH). The ArDH structural gene was cloned by constructing a new D-arabitol utilization pathway in Escherichia coli. The C. albicans ArDH gene expressed in E. coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae an enzyme that catalyzes the reaction D-arabitol + NAD ⇆ D-ribulose + NADH; this gene was present as a single copy per haploid genome, and its deduced peptide sequence was homologous with sequences of several members of the short-chain dehydrogenase family of enzymes. These results suggest that (i) C. albicans synthesizes D-arabitol by dephosphorylating and reducing the pentose pathway intermediate D-ribulose-5-PO4 and (ii) ArDH catalyzes the final step in this pathway.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology